IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

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Biology

In March cirl buntings begin to pair up and start prospecting for nest sites. Once a territory has been selected the birds will occupy it until the end of the summer. The nest is concealed in a hedge or in a gorse or bramble bush and the first egg is laid in early May. The young hatch after two weeks and, if conditions allow, there may be a second or even a third brood. The young are fed almost entirely on insects, and chiefly grasshoppers in later broods. It is therefore important that there are insect-rich grasslands close to the nest to ensure that the chicks fledge successfully. The adult birds feed primarily on seeds but also take invertebrates. Cirl buntings were first recognised as a British breeding bird in 1801. They slowly colonised the south of England and by the 1930s had become a common bird south of the Thames Estuary. However, since then their numbers have declined and there was a catastrophic crash in their population in the 1960s. By 1989 their range had decreased by 83 percent and only 118 pairs nested. In recent years, cirl buntings have increased to around 450 pairs but the population is still restricted to a small area in south Devon.

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Source: ARKive

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