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Order Song birds/Passeriformes, Family Buntings/Emberizidae

Corn Bunting/Emberiza calandra - Adult

L 16-19 cm. In greater part of its European range breeds in extensive, open farmland, mostly where cereals, fodder plants and leguminous plants are cultivated on a large scale. Requires elevated songpost, but isolated trees and bushes or telephone wires, or even just fence posts, will suffice. In S of range, breeds also on dry mountain slopes with low thorn bushes. Huge decline in NW Europe since 1960s. Mostly resident. Social, often seen in small loose flocks. Complex breeding habits; locally 2-3 females per male. Not very shy.
IDENTIFICATION: Big, with quite heavy body and stout bill. Often looks rather large-headed. Plumage not unlike that of a lark, dark-streaked greybrown above and buffy-white below with dark streaks on throat-side, breast and (more narrowly) flanks. Tail lacks white. Head-side shows no striking pattern, is somewhat irregularly streaked on buff-white ground, with darker malar stripe and lower edge of cheek, and has a dark spot on rearmost earcoverts. In worn plumage (summer), breast streaks often coalesce to form irregular dark patterns. Legs and bill-side yellowish-pink. Sexes alike. Moves short distances often with fairly ponderous flight and dangling legs (can give lark-like impression); over longer stretches flies in deep undulations.
VOICE: Call a discordant, metallic ‘tsritt’, also a short clicking ‘bitt’ or ‘bt’, often rapidly repeated in ‘electrified’ series, ‘bt’bt’bt’bt…’. Song is characteristic (but can be skilfully imitated by some Whinchats), a brief, little-varied and oft repeated verse with halting start, accelerating to a squeaky, jingling ending, ‘tück tück-zick-zik-zkzkzkzrississss’.

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