Photographing The Black-Headed Bunting

Here are some tips for finding and photographing the black-headed bunting.

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Black headed bunting

The black-headed bunting offers a beautiful sight, especially in its gorgeous breeding plumage but our bird doesn’t only stand out with its looks; its singing prowess is up to par with the beauty of its dress.

Appearance

The black-headed bunting is about 17 centimetres long and one of the biggest representatives of its family. As its name implies, the male’s black hood strongly contrasts with the yellow underside, the chestnut brown back and the dark brown wings. Females have duller colours with a pale yellow underside and a greyish head.
From June to July, males partially moult, their heads get grey-brown and they look similar to the females. In winter, the full moult follows, which restores the conspicuous dress.

 

Incidence

Black-headed buntings mainly breed in south-eastern Europe. They can be observed in Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia, Turkey and Iran. However, they spend the winter in northern India. In their breeding area, the buntings prefer rather open landscapes with groups of trees and bushes here and there. They also are frequent guests in olive groves and gardens.

Although they are essentially found in south-eastern Europe, vagrant specimen have been observed as far north as Norway during summer.

 

Behaviour and interesting facts

The black-headed bunting is a powerful singer. Its song consists of different musical tones like “chit” or “sitt”. Black-headed buntings aren’t shy performers and often sing from an elevated area. Most of the time, each male has its own and unique song but sometimes a handful of males living in the same neighbourhood will share the same song.

Adult black-headed buntings feed on seeds but the chicks have higher nutritional needs and are fed with insects by the parents. The cup-shaped nest is built in a low bush or on the ground and is made with dry grass. The female lays four to six eggs and incubates them for thirteen days. The chicks fledge ten days after they’ve hatched.

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