It is time for yet another series of photos of a bird hanging out at a waterhole in Kazakhstan.  This time the Grey-necked Bunting (Emberiza buchanani) gets the honors, and, let me tell you, it deserves them.  Not only did this bird take two water baths in full view at relatively close range when the sun was behind us but it also preened the heck out of itself, also in full view with the sun behind us.  It was quite a show!

The Grey-necked Bunting is, like the New World sparrows, a member of the family Emberizidae, so if it were itself a New World species it would almost certainly be called a sparrow.  Of course, the Grey-necked Bunting is an Old World species that exists almost entirely just in Asia, though its breeding range does reach Finland and Russia.  The Birds of Kazakhstan, which is considered the premiere book on what species occur in Kazakhstan, reports that only the subspecies Emberiza buchanani neobscura occurs in Kazakhstan, so it seems safe to assume that it is the subspecies pictured below.  BirdLife International considers the Grey-necked Bunting a Species of Least Concern due to its robust range and population, though its population trend is unknown.

Anyway, to say the least, I enjoyed seeing and photographing this species, which superficially reminded of nothing so much as a Field Sparrow (Spizella pusilla), though, from what I understand, it is actually much more similar to another Old World bunting, the Ortolan Bunting (Emberiza hortulana).  No matter what it reminds you of please enjoy the pictures!

This post has been submitted to Bird Photography Weekly #47.  Go check it out!

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My trip to Kazakhstan was made possible by the wonderful folks at Swarovski Optik who sponsored the trip not only to draw attention to their marvelous optics but to the fact that Swarovski Optik is, with the RSPB, the Species Champion for the Sociable Lapwing, a critically endangered species that breeds almost entirely in Kazakhstan. We here at 10,000 Birds, the only blog designated a Species Champion by BirdLife International, salute Swarovski Optik‘s commitment to conservation.

To learn more about 10,000 Birds’ commitment to conservation through BirdLife International’s Species Champion program and what it means to us at 10,000 Birds (or to donate to the program through 10,000 Birds) just click on the nice Species Champion logo to the right.

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Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy, their son, Desmond Shearwater, and their indoor cat, B.B. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.