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

Ortolan Bunting

Emberiza hortulana

  • Family: Buntings – Emberizidae
  • Appearance: A medium-sized, slender and beautiful bunting. Upper parts greyish brown and streaked. Males have pale greenish grey markings on their head and chest, and pale rusty brown bellies. Females have more yellowish brown underparts with some streaking visible. Birds in all plumages have a distinctive yellow eye ring.
  • Size: Length 15–16.5 cm, weight 21–27 g.
  • Nest: On the ground in long grass, often on the verge of a ditch, made of dry grass and lined with hair.
  • Breeding: 3–6 eggs laid in May, incubated by female for 11–12 days. Fledglings remain in their nest for 10–13 days, and learn to fly about 4 days after leaving the nest.
  • Distribution: Nests in small colonies of a few pairs on the edge of open farmland from Southern Finland to as far north as SW Lapland. Finnish breeding population estimated at 9,500–25,000 pairs, but their numbers have been declining steeply.
  • Migration: Migrates by night, leaving Finland in August–September, and returning in May. Winters in Africa.
  • Diet: Seeds and invertebrates.
  • Calls: A clear, melodious “dsili”. Song resembles that of Yellowhammer, but gentler and more melancholy and melodic.
  • Endangerment: Critically endangered, protected in Finland. Globally Least concern.

Male Ortolan Buntings’ heads and chests are mainly a pale greenish grey, with yellowish chin and moustache-stripe markings, and they have pale rusty brown bellies. Their backs are greyish brown with pronounced streaks. Their tertial wing feathers (the long feathers at the base of the wing), the outer parts of their wing feathers and the outer edges of their wing covert feathers are reddish brown. Females have yellowish brown underparts with some streaking visible, and their upper parts resemble the male plumage.

Ortolan Buntings in all plumages have distinctive yellow eye rings around their brown irises, a brownish pink beak with a black tip, and brownish pink legs.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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