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Long Valley
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Passeriformes > Emberizidae

Black-headed Bunting

Emberiza melanocephala

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Identification

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Large, stocky bunting. On breeding males, the combination of a black head, a bright yellow collar, yellow underparts, and rusty-brown back is unmistakable. The black on the face of nonbreeding males is restricted to the patch around the eyes forming a “bandit’s mask.” Female is plain brown overall with a pale yellowish wash on the vent and traces yellow on the rump. Extremely similar to female Red-headed Bunting; best to use a combination of various details to separate the two, with the Red-headed Bunting having a yellower rump and belly, a more noticeably streaked crown, and a bulkier bill than Black-headed Bunting. Breeds in open forests, edges, and patchily planted areas like orchards and gardens. Winters in farmland. Song is a rather lacklustre series of buzzy notes. Calls are varied and include sparrowlike chirps and high thin “tseep’s.”

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