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Pallas's Bunting - BirdForum Opus

Revision as of 23:46, 11 October 2022 by Njlarsen (talk | contribs) (taxon, refs)
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Alternative name: Pallas's Reed Bunting

Breeding male, subspecies lydiae
Photo by WickWelsh
South of Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia, July 2017
Emberiza pallasi


Photo by BIJ
Yeyahu Nature Reserve, Beijing, China, April 2009

Length 12-13.5 cm (4¾-5¼ in), weight 10-20 g
Overall, a pale bunting similar to a small Reed Bunting but with a 'frosted' appearance. Bill small, conical, with a straight culmen.

  • Greyish-brown upperparts with black streaks; little or no brown tones
  • White lower breast, belly, undertail coverts
  • Black head, throat, upper breast
  • White collar and moustachial stripe
  • Black tail with white outer feathers
  • Bill black in breeding season, paler pinkish in winter


  • Lacks black in plumage
  • Slightly browner overall
  • Bill pinkish

Similar species

Reed Bunting is very similar, but slightly larger and much darker and browner; also has a stouter bill with a slightly curved culmen and dark grey where Pallas's is pink (both have black bills in breeding males).


Asia: breeds in northeast Asia in eastern Russia and Mongolia, winters in China, Japan (rare), Korea and Taiwan. A very rare vagrant to Europe in late autumn.



There are 3 subspecies[1]:

  • E. p. polaris:
  • Siberia to Sea of Okhotsk; winters to Manchuria to eastern China
  • E. p. minor:
  • South-eastern Siberia and adjacent Manchuria
  • E. p. pallasi:
  • Mountains of central and eastern Asia; winters to western China
  • E. p. lydiae:
  • Mountains of central Mongolia

An additional subspecies minor is not recognised by all authorities[2].


Breeds in wetland reed beds and beside lakes; along streams in taiga and tundra; winters in grasslands and marshlands. On passage found in more scrubby areas.



They feed mainly on seeds and other plant materials with insects and invertebrates in the winter time. During the breeding season they concentrate on invertebrates.


Their nest is constructed from grass and sedges and lined with hair and fine grasses.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2021. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2021. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Avibase
  3. What Bird
  4. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved Sept 2017)

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