Cirl Bunting

Scientific name: Emberiza cirlus

Did you know: The Cirl Bunting, a charming bird with a distinct call, is at the very edge of its European range in the UK.

What Do Cirl Buntings Look Like? (how to identify them)

Cirl Buntings, a delightful relative of the Yellowhammer, are distinguishable by their striking features. In the UK, they represent the limit of their European range.

In spring, the male Cirl Buntings exhibit a distinct black chin, crown and eye stripe, complemented by yellow-coloured stripes on the head and a yellow underbelly.

Females and juveniles bear a resemblance to Yellowhammers, yet are differentiated by more pronounced head markings and streaked brown/grey rumps. Notably, the Cirl Bunting is a Schedule 1 species, underscoring its special status.

Differences Between Male and Female Cirl Buntings

The male Cirl Bunting is notable for its bright yellow head, adorned with a black crown, eyestripe, and throat, and a unique greenish breast band across its yellow underparts.

The female, while similar in appearance to the Yellowhammer, can be identified by her streaked grey-brown rump and chestnut shoulders, offering a subtle yet distinct difference.

What Do Cirl Buntings Eat?

In summer, Cirl Buntings feast on invertebrates like grasshoppers and crickets to nourish their chicks. Come winter, their diet shifts to small seeds found in over-wintered stubbles, fallow land, and areas where grain or hay is fed to livestock. During the colder months, they often form flocks for feeding.

Where Do Cirl Buntings Live? (inc. migration info)

Cirl Buntings are predominantly residents of southern Europe, north Africa and the Mediterranean islands. In the UK, they are mostly found in South Devon. They thrive in open areas that have some trees or scrub, preferring sunny slopes. Intriguingly, in the 19th century, they were introduced to NZ (New Zealand), where a population still exists.

Unlike many birds, Cirl Buntings do not migrate in winter, staying close to their preferred habitats.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Cirl Buntings)

The Cirl Bunting’s song is distinctive, often likened to a rattling trill similar to the Arctic warbler or the lesser whitethroat. This unique melody adds to the bird’s charm, making it a fascinating subject for birdwatchers and enthusiasts.

Fun Cirl Bunting Facts (kid friendly)

  • Cirl Buntings were first recorded in the UK around 1800.
  • They can travel up to 2 kilometres in winter to find food.
  • The male Cirl Bunting’s song is a rattling trill, unique among birds.
  • They often nest in thick hedgerows and scrub, preferring blackthorn and hawthorn.
  • Cirl Buntings have increased their population significantly due to conservation efforts.

Cirl Bunting Images

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Male
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Female
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Hatchling
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Nestling
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Chick
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Fledgling
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Juvenile

Facts About The Cirl Bunting

Diet: Insects and seeds.
Bird Family: Buntings
Length: 15.5cm
Wingspan: 22-25.5cm
Weight: 21-27g
Scientific Name: Emberiza cirlus

The Cirl Bunting Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December