Wild life and nature of Samos, Ikaria & Fournoi

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Cirl Bunting (Emberiza cirlus)


Cirl buntings are roughly the size of a House Sparrow(Passer domesticus) that is to say, around 15-17 centimetres long. Males have a distinctive facial pattern: a black line runs through the eye, with yellow lines above and below it, there is a black bib on the throat with a yellow band beneath it. An olive-green band runs across the upper chest. In winter the plumage is duller due to the presence of buff tips which wear off by spring. The female is brownish and streaked, with diagnostic horse-shoe shaped markings on the ear-coverts.


They prefer dry open pastoral country with patches of scrub, scattered trees and hedgerows, where the grass is kept relatively short by the grazing of livestock. Cirl buntings have a particular liking for the lower slopes of hills, gullies in rolling country and river terraces with the above vegetation types.


Cirl buntings feed mainly on invertebrates and seeds, mostly collected from the ground.

Protection status

This species is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.

Interesting Facts

The Cirl Bunting is the mascot on the signs for the village Stokeinteignhead in Devon, England.

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