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Rock bunting

Emberiza cia

(Photo from Naturalmente Fotografia)

Common name:

rock bunting (en); cia (pt); bruant fou (fr); escribano montesino (es); zippammer (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Emberizidae

This species is found in north-west Africa, in southern Europe as far north as southern Germany and Austria, and into central Asia all the way to the Himalayas. The northern populations are migratory, wintering within the breeding range of the resident southern populations.
The rock bunting is 15-16 cm long and has a wingspan of 17-21 cm. They weigh 25 g.
They are usually found in semi-arid terrain, often stony or rocky, with some scrub vegetation and usually no more than a few scattered trees. They are often present in juniper scrub, sub-alpine meadows with scrubs and screes, stone-walled cultivated areas, and vineyards, generally on slopes or hillsides, up to an altitude of 1.900 m but occasionally as high as 4.000 m in Asia.
Rock buntings mainly eat seeds of grasses and other plants, but will also eat insects and other invertebrates during the breeding season.
They breed in April-July. The nest is made of dry grass, stalks, roots, and occasionally leaves and bits of bark, lined with fine grasses, rootlets, and some hair. The nest is placed on the ground, either in a rock niche or in hidden by a small bush. There the female lays 3-5 greyish eggs which she incubates alone for 12-14 days. The chicks are fed insects and fledge 10-14 days after hatching.
IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
The rock bunting has a very large breeding range and a global population of 10-50 million individuals. In Europe, the population has undergone a moderate increase in the last two decades, following declines in the previous two decades, but there are no detailed data on population trends for the rest of their range. overall this species is not considered threatened at present.
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