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© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, M. & W. von Wright: Svenska fåglar (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Lapland Bunting

Calcarius lapponicus

  • Name also: Lapland Longspur
  • Family: Buntings – Emberizidae
  • Appearance: A fairly stocky bunting with a short, thick, black-tipped yellow beak. Males have black, white and reddish-brown markings on their heads. In flight reminiscent of Skylark, but smaller and wings lack white trailing edges.
  • Size: Length 14–15.5 cm, weight 20–30 g.
  • Nest: On the ground, often beside a hummock in marshland, made of dry grass, small twogs and moss, lined with reindeer hair and feathers.
  • Breeding: 3–7 eggs laid in June, incubated by female for 11–14 days. Young leave the nest after 8–10 days.
  • Distribution: Breeds in the fells of Northern Lapland. Breeding population densities may be very high in some areas. May be seen on farmland in Southern Finland during migration. Finnish breeding population estimated at 50,000–150,000 pairs.
  • Migration: Main migration seasons September–October and April–May. Winters in Central Asia.
  • Diet: Invertebrates, seeds, some parts of plants.
  • Calls: In flight a clicking “dudududu, diu”. Song a short but varied and slightly melancholy refrain.

Male Lapland Buntings are colourful birds, with prominent black markings on their heads, throats and chests. A whitish eye-stripe curves downwards onto their neck, separating their black masks from reddish-brown patch on their nape. They have black markings on their flanks, white underparts, and mottled black and brown wings and back. Females resemble female Reed Buntings, though they are slightly larger, and their caps are more streaked, their cheeks are reddish-brown, and they have a white patch beneath each cheek (very small on juveniles). Their irises and legs are dark brown, and their beaks are yellow with a black tip.

Lapland Buntings are wary birds. They readily avoid any perceived threat, often running away or concealing themselves by crouching low to the ground.

Other species from the same family

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