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Rustic Bunting - BirdForum Opus

Winter male
Photo © by Joseph Morlan
Saku--Saku Regulating Pond, Nagano Prefecture, Japan, 15 February 2019
Emberiza rustica


Emberiza rustica
Photo © by oguenaydin
Turkey, 4 January 2021

Length 13-14.5 cm (5-5¾ in), weight 15.5-24.3 g

  • Reddish brown flanks
  • White underparts
  • Pink legs
  • Pink lower mandible.

Summer male

  • Black head
  • White throat and supercilium
  • Reddish breast band.


  • Heavy streaking on brown back
  • Brown face with a whitish supercilium
  • Reddish flank streaks
  • Chestnut nape
  • Pink lower mandible


Summer male
Photo © by Nutcracker
Farne Islands, Northumberland, UK, 2 June 2012

Breeds in Northern Europe and Siberia, migrating to south east Asia, Japan, and eastern China for the winter. A scarce passage visitor in western Europe, including Britain (mainly late May to early June, and mid October).


Winter male
Photo © by KS Shim
Suburb of Seoul, South Korea, 18 December 2005

Population in severe decline due to massive illegal hunting on the wintering grounds.



There are 2 subspecies[1]:

  • E. r. rustica:
  • E. r. latifascia:
  • Taiga of north-eastern Siberia (Yakutsk to Kamchatka)

Subspecies weakly defined. Considered monotypic by IOC[3] and H&M4[4]. Winter visitors to Japan assigned to E. r. latifascia by Brazil[7]; nominate E. r. rustica may also occur in Japan as a migrant or winter visitor. The two suspecies are not distinguishable in winter plumage[12].


Breeds in wet pine and spruce forests with birch trees.



The clutch consists of 4-6 eggs. The nest is built in a bush or on the ground.


Their usual diet is comprised of seeds, supplemented with insects when feeding young.



  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Copete, J.L., Garcia, E.F.J. & Sharpe, C.J. (2019). Rustic Bunting (Emberiza rustica). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/61884 on 25 April 2019).
  3. Gill, F & D Donsker (Eds). 2019. IOC World Bird List (v9.1). doi : 10.14344/IOC.ML.9.1. Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/
  4. Christidis et al. 2018. The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World, version 4.1 (Downloadable checklist). Accessed from https://www.howardandmoore.org.
  5. Bird Banding Manual - Identification Guide to Japanese Birds (1982).
  6. BirdLife International 2016. Emberiza rustica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22720960A89641304. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22720960A89641304.en. Downloaded on 25 April 2019.
  7. Brazil, M.A. (1991) The Birds of Japan. Smithsonian Inst. Press.
  8. Byers, C., J. Curson, and U. Olsson. (1995) Sparrows and Buntings: A Guide to the Sparrows and Buntings of North America and the World. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
  9. Edenius, Lars & Choi, Chang-Yong & Heim, Wieland & Jaakkonen, Tuomo & de Jong, Adriaan & Ozaki, Kiyoaki & Roberge, Jean-Michel. (2016). The next common and widespread bunting to go? Global population decline in the Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica. Bird Conservation International. -1. 1-10. 10.1017/S0959270916000046.
  10. Howell, S.N.G., Lewington, I. & Russell, W. (2014) Rare Birds of North America. Princeton Univ. Press.
  11. Mullarney, K., Svensson, L., Zetterstrom, D. & Grant, P.J. (1999) Collins Bird Guide, Harper Collins
  12. Ornithological Society of Japan (1974) Checklist of Japanese Birds. Fifth Edition. Gakken, Tokyo.

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