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Grey Bunting - BirdForum Opus

Revision as of 07:59, 12 February 2021 by Deliatodd-18346 (talk | contribs) (Picture caption corrected)
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Alternative names: Japanese Grey Bunting

Photo by john_wright
Kawahara-ooike, Nagasaki, Japan, April 2011
Emberiza variabilis


14–17 cm (5½-6¾ in)


  • Plain slate-grey plumage
  • Black-streaked mantle and black wing-feathers with broad slate-grey fringes to wing-coverts and tertials
  • No white in tail
  • Immature males have upperparts like females and face and underparts dull brownish-grey with paler supercilium, throat and sub-moustachial stripe
Photo by 2x Dave 2x
Yehliu, Taiwan, November 2015


  • Dark grey-brown plumage
  • Grey-brown ear-coverts bordered by blackish moustachial stripe, pale grey malar stripe and dark brown lateral throat-stripe
  • Whitish chin and throat
  • Dark dusky-brown underparts with heavy darker streaking
  • Dark brown upperparts with black streaking
  • Plain dark rufous-brown rump (well visible in flight)
  • Brown tail


2 cy male
Photo by john_wright
Kawahara-ooike, Nagasaki, Japan, April 2011

Found in East Asia on southern Kamchatka, Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands (Russia) to northern Japan.
Winters south to the Ryukyu Islands (Japan). Has been recorded in Korea, China and Taiwan.
Uncommon in most of its range.


Regarded as monotypic by Clements[1]. However other authorities accept two subspecies, the nominate and musica from south Kamchatka.


Mixed deciduous and coniferous forest, usually with thickets or dwarf bamboo.
Occurs in mountains and hills at 1000m to 1800m.
In winter found in dense vegetation, often near streams in evergreen-forest but also in parks or suburban gardens (eg in Tokyo) and in open cultivation.


A secretive and sulking species.


Diet not well known, feeds probably on small insects, seeds and small fruits and berries. Forages usually on the ground.
Mostly seen singly or in pairs, during migration sometimes in small groups of five or six birds.


Breeding season starts in June and peaks in July. The nest is made of small twigs, dead leaves and grasses. It's placed low in dwarf bamboo or in a bush, usually below 1m. Lays 3 to 5 eggs.


  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. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2011. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 16: Tanagers to New World Blackbirds. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553781

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