Family Old World Buntings (Emberizidae)

Near Threatened

Cinereous Bunting (Emberiza cineracea)


French: Bruant cendré German: Türkenammer Spanish: Escribano cinéreo

Emberiza cineracea

C. L. Brehm

, 1855,

Izmir, Turkey


Race semenowi distinctive, differing in its olive-green vs pale grey breast and pale yellow vs off-white belly in male (3); slightly darker crown in male (1); more yellowish vs buffy and generally less streaked on throat and breast in female (1); very slightly larger size (effect size for male tail 1.07, score 1). Research needed to determine whether any differences exist in voice, although observations of apparent intermediate individuals on passage suggest that races intergrade in some unknown part of range. Two subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • E. c. cineracea C. L. Brehm, 1855 – Grey-bellied Bunting – SW Turkey and adjacent E Greek islands of Skyros, Lesbos and Chios; winters in NE Sudan, Eritrea and S Saudi Arabia.
  • E. c. semenowi Zarudny, 1904 – Yellow-bellied Bunting – SE Turkey, N Iraq#R and SW Iran (Zagros Mts); probably winters on Red Sea coasts of SW Arabia and NE Africa#R.
  • Descriptive notes

    16·5–18 cm; 21–29·7 g. Relatively large, long-bodied, but rather featureless bunting with fairly long bill. Male nominate race has forehead, crown,... read more


    Song, from prominent boulder, treetop or bush, an insignificant little phrase consisting of 4... read more


    Breeds in dry, hilly country with scattered rocks and shrubby cover. In winter in open country and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Poorly studied. Feeds chiefly on invertebrates during breeding season, otherwise primarily on seeds. In late May stomach contents of three... read more


    Little information. Eggs reported late Apr in SW Iran and W Turkey and late May in E Turkey, where recently fledged young noted as late as... read more


    Migratory. All breeding areas vacated from late Aug onwards. The two races differ somewhat in their... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. A little-known, unobtrusive species with low population density and fragmented range. Generally uncommon or... read more

    Recommended citation

    Madge, S. & Sharpe, C.J. (2020). Cinereous Bunting (Emberiza cineracea). 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 26 February 2020).