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Socotra Bunting - BirdForum Opus

Alternative name: Socotra Mountain Bunting

Emberiza socotrana


13-14 cm.

  • Striking head pattern with black and white stripes
  • Grey-brown mantle streaked blackish-brown
  • Pale grey back with blackish chevrons
  • Pale grey rump with diffuse dark streaks
  • Chestnut-brown upperwing-coverts, greater coverts with dark brown inner webs, dark brown flight-feathers with rufous outer margins
  • Whitish throat, contrasting with rich cinnamon breast, grading into whitish on belly

Females are similar but duller and with brownish-black (not black) head stripes.
Juveniles are much duller than adults with grey-brown head stripes, an off-white throat and a buff-brown breast with faint darker streaking.

Similar species

Distinguished from Cinnamon-breasted Bunting by rich chestnut wing-coverts, whitish throat, pale belly, pale grey rump and narrower black head stripes.


Endemic to the island of Socotra, Yemen.
A rare and local restricted-range species. Total population estimated to be around 1400 birds in a tiny range (310 km²)


This is a monotypic species.


High altitude shrubland. Often on rocky hill slopes with dense grass and shrub vegetation.
Breeds from 600 m to above 1200 m.


Often seen in small flocks in non-breeding season.


Feeds mainly on grass seeds. Forages on the ground.


Little information. Nest undescribed. Breeds during winter rains. Singing males often cluster and pairs are often close together in breeding season, suggesting semi-colonial breeding.


A resident species. Moves to lower elevations in non-breeding season.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, B.L. Sullivan, C. L. Wood, and D. Roberson. 2013. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.8., with updates to August 2013. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved July 2014)

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