Wild life and nature of Samos, Ikaria & Fournoi

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Ortolan Bunting (Emberiza hortulana)


The Ortolan Bunting is 16 cm in length. It can be distinguished from other buntings by its pinkish-beige underparts and pale yellow throat. A narrow yellow ring surrounds each eye, and it has a small pink bill. The stout, conical bill is adapted for crushing and taking the husks off seeds. The male ortolan bunting has an olive green head and chest, and a dark brown back decorated with black streaks. The female is similar in appearance to the male, just a little drabber.


They prefer areas with a continental climate, many hours of sunshine and low rainfall. Key factors in determining suitable habitat are the presence of trees, which are used as song-posts and sometimes as foraging sites, and open areas suitable for feeding.


It feeds mainly on invertebrates, also seeds, especially outside breeding season. It forages on bare soil or sprouting crops, but also in deciduous trees, especially oak, for defoliating caterpillars, or in pine for seeds.

Protection status

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

Interesting Facts

The Ortolan Bunting was eaten as the last New Year’s Eve meal of former French President François Mitterrand before passing away during early 1996.

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