Habitat and Ecology
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Emberiza leucocephalos
Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Emberiza leucocephalos
Public Records: 5
Specimens with Barcodes: 5
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
Breeding and habitat
The pine bunting breeds across much of temperate Asia, migrating south to central Asia, north India and southern China in winter. It is common in all sorts of open land with some scrub or trees, including cultivation, but has a greater preference for open forest (usually pines) than the closely related yellowhammer. It is a rare vagrant to western Europe, but often winters in north-east Italy and Tuscany.
Appearance and song
The pine bunting is a robust 16-17.5-centimetre bird, with a thick seed-eater's bill. The male has a white crown and cheeks, and a chestnut forehead and throat, and a heavily streaked brown back. The female is much duller and is more streaked on its undersides. Non-breeding plumage is like that of a yellowhammer, but with all the yellow replaced by white. Its song and calls are like those of the yellowhammer.
Appearance of pine bunting × yellowhammer hybrids
|This section requires expansion. (June 2008)|
Hybrids between pine bunting and yellowhammer show a mixture of characters. One such bird, a vagrant in Suffolk, England in 1982, the "Sizewell bunting", is documented and illustrated with photographs in British Birds 
Some doubt has been cast upon male birds which appear to all intents and purposes to be pure pine buntings, but show yellow primary fringes. Previously, in Britain, these were regarded as potentially hybrid birds, and not accepted by the British Birds Rarities Committee. However since 2004, BBRC has regarded these birds as acceptable if they also meet the following conditions:
- the lores must be chestnut, not black or grey
- the throat must be extensively chestnut coloured, without a dark malar line or pale submoustachial line
- the supercilium should be chestnut or grey, but not white
- there should be no yellow on the head, or anywhere else except the primary fringes
The pine bunting's natural food consists seeds, and when feeding young, insects. The nest is on the ground. Four to six eggs are laid, which show the hair-like markings characteristic of buntings.
Eggs of pine bunting MHNT
- BirdLife International (2012). "Emberiza leucocephalos". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Lansdown, Peter and Trevor D. Charlton (1990) 'The Sizewell Bunting': a hybrid Pine Bunting × Yellowhammer in Suffolk British Birds 83(6):240-242
- British Birds 97(11):620-621