Family Old World Buntings (Emberizidae)

Least Concern

Crested Bunting (Emberiza lathami)


French: Bruant huppé German: Haubenammer Spanish: Escribano crestado

Emberiza lathami

J. E. Gray

, 1831,

Guangzhou, Guangdong, China


Previously placed in a separate genus, Melophus. See remarks under Family Emberizidae. Quite marked difference between shiny blue-black and rusty-chestnut males in W part of range (India) and dull brownish-black and orange-rufous males in E China, but extensive intervening areas inhabited by intermediates; Indian populations sometimes separated as race subcristata (described from the Deccan, in SC India), but delimitation of any clear races difficult. Monotypic.


S slopes of Himalayas from NE Pakistan (Murree Hills) E to NE India (Assam, Meghalaya and Manipur), also C India (from E Rajasthan, S Gujarat, SW Maharashtra, N Andhra Pradesh and E Madhya Pradesh E to S Bihar), and S China (from Red Basin of Sichuan E, chiefly S of 30° N, to Anhui and Zhejiang, S to Yunnan, Guangxi and Guangdong) S to Myanmar, N & C Laos and N Vietnam (Tonkin). Also W & NW Thailand in non-breeding season.

Descriptive notes

16–17 cm; 20–26 g. Distinctive, elongate bunting with prominent crest and plain, almost round-tipped tail; rufous wings in all plumages. Male breeding has... read more


Simple song, from prominent perch such as very top of tree, bush, rock outcrop or roof of building... read more


Open dry grassy or rocky hillsides and terraced cultivation with scattered bushes and rock outcrops... read more

Food and feeding

Chiefly small grass seeds of various kinds, including fallen grains and some weed seeds. Also, has been observed to practise flycatching... read more


Season varies, coinciding with local wet seasons: egg-laying late Apr to Jun in E China, Jul–Aug in Pakistan and NW India and Jun–Jul in W... read more


Resident and altitudinal migrant. Resident in low-lying hills over much of range, merely... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Common to abundant, though somewhat localized, over most of extensive range. In Pakistan and Kashmir decidedly uncommon; occurrence in Bangladesh... read more

Recommended citation

Madge, S. (2020). Crested Bunting (Emberiza lathami). 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 29 February 2020).