Belongs to: finches & buntings

Reed bunting Emberiza schoeniclus

BoCC Amber list

Best time to see: all year

Key facts

Dapper marshland seed-eater, seen also in drier areas

Habitat: tall vegetation around standing water and drainage ditches, also hedges bordering fields

Widespread resident, but in severe decline; some migrate in and out for the winter


Male has black head with white collar, brown upperparts, streaked black; female has mainly brown head; 14–16 cm

Often seen in short jerky flight or flicking its tail on a perch in song 

Adults feed mainly on seeds; young are fed on snails, beetles and insects


Nest is a cup of dry grass lined with hair, on or near the ground concealed in sedges, rushes or reeds

2 or 3 broods April to June; 3–5 pale green eggs with black markings

If surprised, divert attention from the nest by shuffling along the ground with wings half spread as if broken

© Alan Williams

© Leslie Borg