Black-headed bunting

(Emberiza melanocephala)
Migratory bird. It breeds in Paggaio and overwinters in India.
Sophia Siggiridou_Kostas Vidakis, MSc

Distribution of the species

The local breeding population is smaller than the 2% of the national population (estimated at 40,000–50,000 pairs). The conservation status of the local population, which is not isolated within its wider distribution range, is considered good. In the study area, the species is found in the agroforestry habitats of the lower altitudes, as well as in their ecotones with adjacent forest vegetation.

Description of the species (biological and ecological features)

Large bunting with triangular light-colored beak and long tail. More ground-dwelling than finches. With black hood on the head, brown upperparts and yellow underparts. The female with duller gray-brown, brown-red and brown-yellow colors. Strong and stable flight, without strong undulation and ups and downs. With a strong and short song that is cut short.

Migratory bird. It breeds in Paggaio and overwinters in India. It lives in open dry areas with dense and relatively tall shrubs and phrygana, with scattered trees. Often in sparse maquis, orchards, olive groves, vineyards, but also in dense linear shrubs on stream and river banks and field boundaries. Usually at low and medium altitudes up to 1,200 m. Makes the cup-shaped nest with dry grass in low bushes or on the ground. It feeds in flocks, usually on the ground but also in bushes and low in trees. It mainly consumes grass seeds and cereals. It feeds its young with insects.

The main threat to the species is the expansion and intensification of agriculture by the conversion of agricultural land from low intensity to fully intensified and the destruction of shrubs and hedges at their borders.

Conservation status

Least Concern.

Conservation state

Protected under the Bern Convention (Appendix II). Listed as Least Concern in Greece and in Europe, by the Greek Red Data Book and the IUCN correspondingly Not included in a SPEC category (European species of conservation concern) by BirdLife International.