I feel that like most bird families (with the obvious exception of pheasants), buntings are somewhat underrated. They lack both the flashiness larger birds and the “I am more of an expert birder than you” appeal of warblers. In other words, they are my kind of birds. At my regular birding spot at Nanhui, Shanghai, five or six species of buntings can be seen fairly regularly, and about the same number very occasionally.
Even the male Black-faced Bunting is not very black-faced, and the female is even less so.
The Chestnut Bunting is among the more attractive (and rare) of the buntings showing up here.
The Japanese Reed Bunting is a rare winter visitor that I find relatively difficult to distinguish from the much more common Pallas Bunting.
Japanese Reed Bunting
The Little Bunting – as the name suggests – is probably the cutest of the family.
Rustic Bunting used to be fairly rare at Nanhui but this winter there are some large flocks.
I am particularly fond of Tristam`s Bunting – maybe the smartest-looking of the family.
The creativity of those who named buntings seems to have been fairly limited – witness the next four buntings that can be found at Nanhui:
Yellow-breasted Bunting (critically endangered due to trapping in Southern China – what a shame!)
Yellow-throated Bunting (used to be called Elegant Bunting, which is a bit more creative …)
Now for some bonus buntings – buntings not usually seen at Nanhui but elsewhere …
Others have seen the Meadow Bunting at Nanhui, but I am still waiting for my first sighting here. The photo was taken at Xiaoyangshan, about 30 km away from Nanhui.
And if you are willing to travel a bit further within China, you can see the Crested Bunting, which arguably has a bit more star quality …
I`ve seen three more buntings – one in Germany (Yellowhammer) and two in South Africa (Cape Bunting, Golden-breasted Bunting).
Always interesting to see new species of families one is already familiar with – like cover versions of favorite songs …
And if you want to see even more bunting photos (unlikely, I know), take a look here …
Beautiful photos! I love buntings and had no idea there were so many.
Its interesting to hear that you have had more Rustic Buntings this winter. in Jiangsu, I have also been seeing nice size flocks but I wasn’t sure how typical this was. Perhaps, the warm start to the winter?
I think we can all relate to thinking the common names being a bit dry, to say the least. I can even imagine those that decide on them would agree. One name they assigned/allow that really bothers me is Red-flanked Bluetail. I have never seen one with a red flank, its orange, always. That said, I did find one field guide that calls it orange-flanked which fits so well that I now find myself using it. Problem is, now I am always typing OFBL instead of RFBL into my eBird checklist. Lister problems..
Anyways… Happy Chinese New Year. Keep up the good work.