Bird Families

Bunting bird


Area. Garden bunting is widespread for nesting in Europe and Western Asia, also in Northwest Africa. In Norway, up to 69 ° 45'N. sh., in Sweden and Finland beyond the Arctic Circle, south to the Mediterranean (but on the islands only in Crete and, perhaps, in Cyprus). In Asia, from Asia Minor, Syria and Palestine to Iran (the southern Caspian provinces, Khorasan, Zagrosh, Kerman and Kugistan, according to Zarudny, 1911), in Afghanistan, in western Mongolia to the middle reaches of the Kobdo.

In the USSR from the Kaliningrad region. and Karelia in the west of the European part, in the north it is sporadic near Arkhangelsk, does not enter the forest region of the Urals, rising on the eastern slope of this ridge to 56 ° -57 ° N. sh. Occurs sporadically in Lapland, in the Pskov region, is common only in the middle and southern strip from the region. Vitebsk, Minsk, Moscow, Tula, Gorky Territories and the Tatar Republic, south to the Crimea and the Caucasus.

In the Asian part of the Union, breeds in Western and Central Siberia, to the north, approximately to the latitude of Omsk and Krasnoyarsk, to the east to the last, Minusinsk, region, western part of Tuva, further along Tesi. In winter in South Asia to Iraq, the Persian Gulf, incidentally to Gilgit and northwest of Kashmir (Becker, 1926), but mainly in North Africa south to Rio de Oro in the west, southern Abyssinia, northern Kenya and northern Somalia in the east, also in southern Arabia.

Nature of stay... In the USSR, the garden bunting is a nesting bird that flies away everywhere for the winter.

Dates... Spring arrival, in comparison with other oatmeal, is late. The timing of the autumn departure is poorly understood. The spring migration occurs in small groups, occasionally singles; in the fall, migration to the south is almost always in large flocks. Departure and migration at African wintering grounds falls in the spring to March-April; in the fall, the main mass migrates in October (Grotte, 1930).

Biotope... More or less open landscape with shrubs and woodlands. Prefers a rugged landscape, crossed by ravines. Penetrates high into the mountains. In Altai, nests in mountains up to 2000 m above sea level (Sushkin, 1938).

In treeless regions of Ukraine, garden bunting inhabits tree plantations along the roads, or the slopes of steppe gullies, overgrown with rare shrubs (Walch, 1899). Where there is a real forest (for example, near Kiev and Kharkov), birds inhabit forest edges, glades, clearings (Charleman, 1915), as well as gardens and shrubs along the banks of rivers (Somov, 1897). In Transcaucasia, it is found in various settings. On the Araks, according to the observations of Bobrinsky (1915), it lives in a desert area with rocky soil or among placers. Near Tbilisi, we met on the slopes of rocky ravines, overgrown with rare, thorny bushes. In Kakheti, according to the observations of Chkhikvishvili (1930), it rises into the mountains up to the subalpine zone inclusive, and in the southwestern Transcaucasia it inhabits areas of shrub growth of slopes from the sea coast to the upper border of the forest.

In the middle zone of the European part of the USSR, garden bunting is a bird, mainly of the cultural landscape. It can be found both in shrub thickets among fields, and in glades and forest outskirts. In Siberia (Kok-chetavskie bory, Karkaralinskie mountains) inhabits birch forest-steppe, stony areas and pine woodlands (Shtegman, 1928, Selevin, 1935). Finally, in Turkmenistan (Gyaz-Gedyk), the authors found it on the slopes of low mountains overgrown with ephemeral herbs and pistachio trees.

Reproduction... Females, apparently, appear several days later than males, after which the formation of nesting pairs occurs. It always nests in separate pairs, but in some places it is capable of forming a high population density (under Kamyshin, the nest from the nest is 100-200 m, Osmolovskaya, 1950). During breeding, males sing for most of the day. The singing male sits down on a small bush, sometimes on a stone, bump, or remains on the ground among the grass.

The nest is always placed on the ground and is usually skillfully hidden by an overhanging bush or grass, and the bird prefers to build it not on a flat area, but on the slope of a ravine. For the nest, the bird uses a depression in the soil so deep that the edges of the nest are at ground level. Stecher (1913) points out that bunting sometimes digs the nesting hole by itself. Nest material - dry stalks of cereals, thin roots, less often dry leaves. The tray is lined with horse and other hair, sometimes feathers. The entire building consists of two layers - external and internal. The shape of the garden bunting nest is oval or round. The outer diameter of the sockets is 88-120, the inner diameter is 55- 65, the depth of the tray is 48-52 mm. Somov (1897) gives several other sizes of nests: the outer diameter of the nest, according to his data, is 130-150, the inner diameter is 70-80, the depth of the tray is 35-40 mm.

The question of who builds the nest - only the female or with the participation of the male - remains unclear. Submitted by Stecher (1913), the construction lasts two days if the weather is favorable. In 1-2 days after the end of construction, the female begins to lay. Full clutches usually contain 4 or 5 eggs, 6 eggs per clutch are relatively rare.

Dimensions of eggs (89) collected in the USSR: 18-21.4x14.5-16.6, on average 19.9 x 15.3 mm. The eggs have a shiny shell, off-white with a barely pronounced bluish tinge. On the main background, spots and dots of two genera are infrequently scattered: large superficial ones - black or black-brown in color, and deep inner ones - gray or violet-gray. In addition to the spots, the egg is often sparsely mottled with black strokes and curls. In their color, the eggs of garden oatmeal are unmistakably different from the eggs of other oatmeal.

There is probably only one clutch during the summer. After the end of reproduction, the formation of large flocks, consisting of adults and young individuals, is observed everywhere. Later, these flocks begin to fly southward.

Molting... Adult birds have one full molt per year, which takes place in late summer - early autumn. According to Wiserby (1938), there is also an additional - the second molt, during which partly small feathers are replaced, in January - February. We do not have exact data on the beginning of full molt, but molting buntings have been found already in the second half of July. So, for example, in Bashkiria, a male was caught on July 21, which finishes molting. His small feather has almost completely changed, the flight feathers and tail feathers are fresh, only the first primary feather barely breaks through, the second is short, the extreme tail feathers have not yet reached their normal size. At the end of August - at the beginning of September, almost all of the common garden buntings in a fresh feather. The flight feathers and tail feathers molt from the inner feathers to the outer outer ones.

Young birds in the first autumn of their life replace small feathers in September-October, wing coverts and secondary flight feathers, tail feathers and primary flight feathers remain old. In this outfit, they remain all winter and all summer, only in the fall, after the first full molt, they put on the final adult outfit.

Food... In autumn and spring, garden bunting eats seeds of various weeds and young shoots of plants, but during the breeding season it largely switches to insects, at which time it exterminates the elm springtail caterpillars, as well as caterpillars of the spider weaver sawfly, forest moth and other forest pests.

Field signs... A relatively small oatmeal. Where it lives next to common oatmeal, it differs well from it in its smaller size. The males of this bunting are easily distinguished by the color of the plumage. The song is simple, oatmeal type, like "Tew-Tew-Tew-Turr".

Dimensions and structure... The body length of males (36) 150-177, on average 164.9 mm, females (10) 152-175, on average 160.7 mm. The wingspan of males (30) 236-285, on average 272.2 mm, females (9) 250-278, on average 263 mm. The wing length of males (125) 80-92, on average 87.8 mm, females (40) 78-90, on average 83.3 mm. The weight of males is 21-22 g. The 1st flight feather is rudimentary. The outer webs of the 2nd and 3rd primary flight feathers are notched.


Adult male in summer... The top of the head and the adjacent part of the neck are gray with an olive-green bloom and with barely noticeable dark trunks. The neck is greenish brown. The back is reddish-brown with wide brownish-black longitudinal streaks. The loin and upper tail are grayish-brown with a greenish tint and with dark feathers. The frenulum, eye ring, chin, throat and goiter vary greatly in color from bright yellow to whitish yellow with a dirty bloom (probably older birds are more brightly colored depending on age). The breast and ear coverts are gray with an olive green tinge. The belly and undertail are brownish-chestnut of varying intensity and with a yellowish tone on the sides. Flight feathers, large and medium wing coverts and tail feathers are blackish-brown, two outer pairs of tail feathers with large white spots. Lesser wing coverts are grayish brown. The bill and legs are reddish, the eyes are brown.

Adult male in fresh plumage after molt... Wide light whitish-brown edging of feathers is strongly developed, which gives the entire plumage a lighter and dull tone.

The adult female in summer is similar to the male, but the top and sides of the head are brownish and with more sharply developed dark trunks of feathers. The chin, throat and goiter are yellow or whitish-yellow. The chest is gray with a slight greenish coating. In the winter feather, like in males, wide light edging of feathers is developed.

Young garden buntings after partial autumn molting. The male is similar to the female, but the top of the head is more brownish and darker streaks are more developed. Throat and craw are whitish or light yellow with dark streaks, especially thick on the sides. The chest is brownish with a light grayish-green coating and strongly developed dark streaks. The belly and undertail are of a pale brownish-chestnut color. The female differs from the male in this plumage by the more brown top of the head and more strongly developed spotting on the dorsal and ventral sides of the body. The chest is whitish-dirty gray, densely mottled with dark streaks. In winter, all feathers have wide light edging and all plumage is duller; in summer, as the edging is worn out, the plumage is brighter.

Chick outfit... Strongly developed dark longitudinal streaks on the whole body and head. Throat and goiter are whitish-dirty with many dark streaks. The chest is brownish with wide longitudinal dark streaks, densely covering the main brown tone of the chest. The bill is dark brown, the legs are brown.

Garden Bunting Chick... Thin, rare light brownish-gray down is located along the pterilia. The oral cavity is pink, the legs are creamy yellow.

Description and features

The mass of an adult bird is in the range of 25-35 g. The wings swing open by 25-30 cm. It grows in length up to 16-22 cm. The appearance of females and males differs in most species, especially during the breeding season.

Males are more brightly feathered. In males of common buntings, the head is tinted canary-colored with olive and gray transverse stripes. Blotches of the same color are located on the chest and extend onto the abdomen. On the dorsal part of the body, brown, non-contrasting stripes are present. The body is chestnut. The chest and lower, ventral part of the body are yellow.

At the end of the breeding season, the autumn molt period comes. The need to show off disappears, the males lose the brightness of the breeding outfit. Females and juveniles in many ways repeat the color of males, but the color range is more modest, restrained.

There is a peculiarity in the life of garden buntings. Europeans liked them. Birds are caught in large numbers and fed. For what they are placed in cells where there is no access to light. The darkness has a peculiar effect on the birds: they begin to peck the grain vigorously. In the old days, to plunge birds into darkness, they simply gouged out their eyes.

Fattening oatmeal can quickly double its weight. That is, instead of 35 grams, they begin to weigh 70. Then they are killed. Fine French cuisine requires that this process takes place with the participation of a noble drink: oatmeal is drowned in Armagnac.

Birds soaked in alcohol are fried whole. They also absorb them entirely. At the same time, they hold the fried oatmeal with a napkin, covering the process of eating the delicacy. Some people think that a napkin is needed to collect bird bones. Others claim that in this way the act of barbarism is hidden from God.

At the end of the 20th century, in many European countries, dishes from small wild birds were prohibited. Famous French chefs insist on lifting the ban. They justify the request by the need to preserve traditions and the fight against the gastronomic black market.

Fate offered the bird the role of not only a delicacy, but also a symbol. In the USA there is bunting bird state - this is Alabama. The informal association of bird and staff took place during the Civil War. The uniforms of the soldiers of the army of the southerners were often absent, they dressed at random. To distinguish their own from strangers, they sewed yellow patches, similar to the wings of a bird. Hence the state's symbolic name.

In the oatmeal family, scientists have identified three groups:

  • oatmeal of the Old World,
  • american oatmeal,
  • neotropical childbirth,
  • other genera.

The group of buntings of the Old World includes the genus of real buntings. When people talk about buntings, they mean birds of this genus. It includes about 41 species. It is difficult to speak about exact figures due to the ongoing work on systematization.

Taking into account the results of genetic studies, significant changes are made to the biological classification, including the oatmeal family. There are several species of the genus of true buntings that humans are more likely to encounter.

  • Yellowhammer.

The homeland of this bird is Eurasia. Has mastered all territories, except for the highland and arctic zones. Introduced and breeding successfully in Australia and New Zealand.

Birds overwinter within their ranges, but northern populations can migrate to Greece, Italy, the Middle East, and northern Afghanistan.

Singing Common Bunting

  • Oatmeal-Remez.

Migratory view. It nests in the taiga forests of Scandinavia, European, Siberian and Far Eastern parts of Russia. For wintering migrates to South Asia. The color is peculiar. The head of the male is covered with black feathers and the throat is white.

Singing oatmeal pemez

  • Garden bunting.

Breeds in all European countries, including Scandinavian ones. Found in Asia: Iran, Turkey. First spotted in India in 2018. In autumn, it gathers in flocks and migrates to the African tropics. At the beginning of the flight, birds can get caught in the nets. The further fate of the captured birds is rather sad: they become a potential delicacy.

  • Stone bunting.

The area stretches from the Caspian Sea to Altai. It hibernates at the end of summer. Small flocks of 10-20 individuals fly to South Asia.

  • Dubrovnik.

The bird nests throughout Russia, in Europe. Scandinavia is the western border of the range. Japan is eastern. Winters in southern Chinese provinces.

Until the beginning of the 21st century, the International Society for the Conservation of Nature believed that nothing threatened the species. In 2004, a critical decline in the number of the species was announced. The reason is the massive hunting of birds during the migration, the paths of which lie through China.

Listen to the singing of Dubrovnik

  • Garden oatmeal.

Prefers warm countries. It can be found on the Mediterranean islands, in the countries of southern Europe. Sometimes he gets to Central Europe. Since territories with a warm climate have been selected for nesting, seasonal flights are not typical for this species. Ogorodnaya oatmeal in the photo differs little from ordinary.

  • Oatmeal crumb.

The smallest oatmeal. Its weight does not exceed 15 g. The color has dark stripes on the back and belly. Like most buntings, females are significantly dimmer than males. The motherland of the crumb is the north of Russia and Scandinavia. Builds nests in lowlands, in marshy, bushy places.For the winter it flies to India, to the South of China.

  • Yellow-browed bunting.

Oatmeal is large enough. Its weight reaches 25 g. The feathers on the head are black, with the exception of the brow stripes - they are yellow. What gave the name to this bird species. Viet nests and hatches chicks in the coniferous and mixed forests of Central Siberia. For the winter, he moves to the south of China and to India. One of the few oatmeal that does not appear in Europe.

Singing yellow-browed bunting

  • Prosyanka.

The largest of the oatmeal. Its weight reaches 55 g. Another feature of the bird is the absence of a difference in the color range of males and females. Distributed in the north of Africa, in Western and Central Asia, in the south of Russia.

Listen to the voice of the millet

  • Polar bunting.

This bird is often called pallas oatmeal. In honor of the German scientist Peter Pallas, who served Russia and conducted research, including the Siberian flora and fauna. One of the smallest oatmeal. Viet nests in Siberia, Central Asia, Mongolia.

Singing polar bunting

  • Reed bunting.

This bird has a middle name: reed bunting. Viet nests in swamps, along the banks of rivers overgrown with reeds. Distributed in Europe and in the Maghreb countries. African populations nest and winter in the same area. European populations migrate to northern Africa. Reed bunting in winter can make food wanderings. That is, it is a sedentary, nomadic and migratory species at the same time.

Lifestyle and habitat

Populations nesting in places with a mild, warm climate lead a stationary, sedentary mode of existence. From places with difficult weather conditions, birds go south in the fall. In the event of problems with nutrition, forage migrations may take place. These movements can be made all year round, regardless of the season.

In 1862, a biological invasion was carried out. Common buntings from the coast of Britain came to the New Zealand islands. This was not a random process. The local society of acclimatization was engaged in the resettlement of bunting. The colonists were not interested in local predators. The buntings quickly settled on the islands and reached the Australian Lord Howe.

They arrive on the subantarctic islands, but do not nest on them. Common buntings have also been purposefully introduced to the Falkland Islands and South Africa. Forced resettlement of animals rarely gives positive results. At the beginning of the 20th century, New Zealand farmers already considered oatmeal to be a bird that wreaked havoc on agriculture.

Before the automobile era, buntings lived in cities. They could be seen at the stables and along the route of horse-drawn transport. With the disappearance of horses, oats disappeared from the cities. The number of green areas has decreased. Stone and asphalt began to reign everywhere. The oatmeal had nothing to feed on and nowhere to nest. They did not follow the example of pigeons and sparrows and left the centers of civilization.

However, city dwellers can hear and see these birds not only on the outskirts. Songbird bunting especially appreciated as a vocalist. Professional bird watchers and experienced hobbyists keep them at home, in cages or aviaries.

Most often, they keep ordinary, reed oatmeal, pemez. Each male, from whom quality bird songs are expected, is placed in a separate dwelling. It should be a spacious, well-lit cage. The floor is covered with washed, hot sand. In addition to the feeder and drinker, a bathing tank is installed.

They are fed with canary mixture, millet, sprouted oats. All experts say that birds, in addition to plant food, need protein food. At home, as an additive, they receive mealworms, maggots, zophobas larvae and other insects. Such food is especially important during the moulting period, when creating pairs and breeding chicks.

Singing oatmeal sometimes becomes a standard for other birds. Males are kept for training kenars and other imitators. When keeping oatmeal, difficulties may arise due to their fearfulness.


Oatmeal follows a plant-based diet. The seeds of wild herbs are eaten: barnyard, chaff, wheatgrass, fescue and others. Grains of cultivated cereals are especially attracted: wheat, barley, oats, millet and others.

During the rearing period, buntings begin to hunt insects. They are caught in large quantities. Oatmeal feeds chicks twice or thrice during the summer. That is, the destruction of beetles, caterpillars and other pests lasts all summer.

At the beginning of autumn, before the flight, the buntings begin to feed intensively. In the regions where grain is grown, the harvest is taking place at this time. Oatmeal, often in mixed flocks, find themselves near uncleared fields, storage facilities, roads along which grain is transported.

Reproduction and life expectancy

The mating season begins in April, with late spring in May. The male begins to sing. Selects, as a scaffold, single trees, pillars, bushes. Noticing the female, she opens her wings, demonstrates her outfit. Nestles on a branch next to her. On this, the acquaintance can be considered successful. Buntings are monogamous for at least the current mating season.

The female looks for a suitable site and proceeds to the construction of the nest. It is placed on the ground. In a place where it is difficult to see it by a running animal or a passing person. The nest is simple - a bowl-like depression. The bottom is lined with dry moss, grass, hair and feathers.

Reed Bunting Nest

When the nest is completed, a pair is formed. 3-5 eggs are laid. They are covered with a camouflage pattern consisting of thin dark lines and spots of indeterminate color. The eggs are incubated by the female. The father of the family provides her with food.

After 13-15 days, chicks hatch, mobile, sighted, covered with down. Both parents feed them. In the usual grain diet for birds, winged and wingless insects are included. After about 21-23 days, the fledging chicks begin to leave their home.

At this stage, the female stops paying attention to the chicks: she starts building a new nest. The male feeds the chicks left by the mother. But very quickly they become independent. Three weeks pass from the moment the chick emerges from the shell, to independent flights and feeding.

Young buntings, regardless of gender, are colored the same, not brightly, like adult females. Males acquire bright plumage later, after molting. By the next season, young birds are fully ready to breed and raise their own offspring.

Bunting chicks

All types of oatmeal two, sometimes three clutches are made per season. Reproduction spaced over time makes it possible to be less dependent on the weather, to compensate for the loss of eggs and chicks as a result of the actions of predators. There are many enemies who are ready to destroy the nest: crows, rodents, small predators. Buntings have only two ways of protection - camouflage and withdrawal from the nest, pretending to be easy prey.

Buntings live for three years. In zoos and at home, the life span is doubled. Good care and a carefree existence lead to records in terms of longevity. At the Berlin Zoo, bird watchers recorded the death of bunting at the age of 13.

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