Cirl bunting
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Emberizidae
Genus: Emberiza
Species: Emberiza cirlus
The cirl bunting (emberiza cirlus) is a small bunting. It is from Eurasia, but was late imported in New Zealand.


Cirl buntings are slightly smaller than yellowhammers, having smaller bill and shorter, more rounded wings. Cirl buntings are roughly the size of a house sparrow. Males have a distinctive facial pattern: a black line runs through the eye, with yellow lines above and below it; there is a black bib on the throat with a yellow band beneath it. An olive-green band runs across the upper chest. In winter the plumage is duller due to the presence of buff tips which wear off by spring. The female is brownish and streaked, with diagnostic horse-shoe shaped markings on the ear-coverts.


Cirl buntings spend much of their time close to cover, feeding mainly on the ground. However, males frequently sing from prominent positions on the top of trees, bushes, fences, large rocks or power lines. They are inconspicuous, but can often be approached closely. Cirl buntings may join flocks of other species briefly when they feed in or near their territories. They are highly territorial during the breeding season, during which time this aggression may occasionally extend to territorial disputes with yellowhammers.


Male cirl buntings establish territories and sing to attract a mate. A loose nest sited in dense vegetation is built by the female, and is lined with fine fibres. 2-4 (typically 3) eggs are laid. Both parents feed the chicks. After fledging, the female is likely to nest again while the male attends the chicks from the first nest.


Cirl buntings feed mainly on invertebrates and seeds, mostly collected from the ground. Chicks are fed on a variety of invertebrates, of which grasshoppers seem to be particularly favoured. Also eaten are cicadas, beetles, moths, caterpillars, aphids, flies and spiders. The seed component of the diet is mainly a variety of grass seeds.


the male has a rattling song similar to part of a greenfinch song, repeated up to nine times per minute. A high-pitched contact call is uttered frequently between birds in pairs or small flocks, except while feeding. A loud chattering call is used during territorial disputes.


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