Family Old World Buntings (Emberizidae)

Least Concern

Black-headed Bunting (Emberiza melanocephala)


French: Bruant mélanocéphale German: Kappenammer Spanish: Escribano cabecinegro

Emberiza melanocephala


, 1769,

Carniola, Slovenia


Closely related to E. bruniceps and both sometimes placed in genus Granativora; the two hybridize in area of Caspian Sea. Monotypic.


SE Europe from Italy and Balkans E to Black Sea coast, from E Ukraine (E of R Dnieper) and SW Russia E to NW Caspian region and S to N Caucasus region (absent from Greater Caucasus) and, in S, from Aegean islands and Turkey E to E Georgia, Azerbaijan and NE & SW Iran (in S locally E to Baluchistan and possibly adjacent Pakistan#R) and S to Israel, W Jordan and N Iraq. Winters in W India.

Descriptive notes

15·5–17·5 cm; 23–33 g. Fairly large bunting with rather long bill, lacking white in outer tail. Male breeding is distinctive, with head black, side... read more


Song, normally from vantage point such as treetop, wire or rock, also in flight, usually a short... read more


Breeds in open areas with dispersed trees, shrubs and hedges, from sea-level locally to c. 2000 m,... read more

Food and feeding

During breeding season mostly invertebrates, also seeds and other plant material. Recorded invertebrates in diet include larval mayflies (... read more


Season starts mid-May and at peak during Jun; normally single-brooded, possibly sometimes two broods. Male performs song flight, flying on... read more


Migratory; winters in W India, mainly in plains in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common to locally very common. Breeding population of Europe estimated at 2,800,000–9,300,000 pairs. Densities can be locally... read more

Recommended citation

Copete, J.L. (2020). Black-headed Bunting (Emberiza melanocephala). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 24 February 2020).