Family Old World Buntings (Emberizidae)

Least Concern

Cinnamon-breasted Bunting (Emberiza tahapisi)


French: Bruant cannelle German: Bergammer Spanish: Escribano canelo

Emberiza tahapisi

A. Smith

, 1836,

“country towards the sources of the Vaal River”, Mpumalanga, South Africa


Sometimes placed in genus Fringillaria. Until recently considered conspecific with E. goslingi, which see (above); populations bearing name “septemstriata” apparently a hybrid swarm produced by present species and E. goslingi, but here assigned to latter species without taxonomic rank. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • E. t. arabica (L. Lorenz von Liburnau & Hellmayr, 1902) – S Arabia.
  • E. t. insularis (Ogilvie-Grant & H. O. Forbes, 1899) – Socotra I.
  • E. t. tahapisi A. Smith, 1836 – C & S Ethiopia, N Somalia and SE South Sudan S through E Africa to SE South Africa; also locally in Angola, and S Gabon E to S DRCongo.
  • E. t. nivenorum (Winterbottom, 1965) – S Angola S to C Namibia.
  • Descriptive notes

    13–15 cm; 11·6–21 g. A widespread Afrotropical bunting with cinnamon-washed underparts. Male nominate race has striking head pattern of black and white stripes (pattern... read more


    Male song a short, fast series of notes, ascending in pitch, “chip-chip-ip-ereee” or “cha-cha-cha... read more


    Mainly rocky hillsides, stony areas and erosion gulleys in wide range of habitats, from arid and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet mainly grass seeds; also some soft green leaves, nectar and a wide diversity of insects, including termites (Isoptera), hairless... read more


    Season Jul–Jan (mainly Sept–Dec) in W Africa, Jan–Jun in E Africa, Apr–Jul in Malawi, Nov–Jun (mainly Jan–Feb) in Zimbabwe, Oct–Apr (mainly... read more


    Resident, local nomad and partial migrant. In W Africa, moves N in rainy season and S in dry season... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Uncommon to locally common. Density 0·1–0·3 pairs/ha in Eastern Cape and Nigeria, up to 3 pairs/ha in C Zimbabwe; even greater densities locally in N... read more

    Recommended citation

    Ryan, P. (2018). Cinnamon-breasted Bunting (Emberiza tahapisi). 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 17 January 2018).