Belongs to: buntings

Corn bunting Emberiza calandra

BoCC Red list

Best time to see: all year

Key facts

Nondescript open country bird with a song like jangling keys

Habitat: treeless farmland and areas of rough grazing, in Essex mainly along coast and estuary

Widespread resident in suitable habitat, but in serious decline


Chunky, thickset bird with a stubby bill, streaked buff and brown all over; 17–18 cm; gregarious in winter

Perches openly on a bush or tree or on wires to sing its jangling song, with head thrown back 

Adults feed on weed seeds, grain, berries and invertebrates; young are fed invertebrates and unripe grain


Untidy nest of dry grass, well hidden among coarse vegetation on or near the ground

2 broods late May to July; 3–5 pale grey eggs, spotted brownish

Some males believed to be polygamous, with harems of half-a-dozen females

© David Harrison