Family Old World Buntings (Emberizidae)

Least Concern

House Bunting (Emberiza sahari)


French: Bruant du Sahara German: Hausammer Spanish: Escribano sahariano

Emberiza sahari

J. Levaillant

, 1850,

near Ghelma, between Ghardaïa and Ouargla, southern Algeria


Sometimes placed in genus Fringillaria. Often treated as conspecific with E. striolata, but constant differences in plumage and behaviour. Exhibits some variation in plumage tone: more richly coloured birds from SW Morocco sometimes treated as race theresae (described from Anja, in SW Morocco) and darker ones from S Mali as sanghae (from Sangha, near Bandiagara, in Mopti, in S Mali), but differences minimal. Treated as monotypic.


NW Africa from Morocco and Mauritania patchily E to NW Chad.

Descriptive notes

13–14 cm; 12–18 g. A rather small, slender bunting, smaller than E. cia and with rather plain face, rufous upperwing-coverts and secondaries lacking... read more


Male song, throughout year but most intense prior to breeding, a series of simple notes, similar to... read more


Rocky areas, usually near water. Closely associated with human dwellings in much of its range, but... read more

Food and feeding

Diet mainly seeds, also occasional flowers, berries, insects and spiders (Araneae). Frequently scavenges food around human dwellings and... read more


Late Jan to late Oct, mainly late Feb to late Jul, in Morocco; frequently multiple broods, up to four per season. Monogamous; usually... read more


Mostly resident; some move to lower elevations in winter in Morocco. Occasional vagrants wander... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Locally common. Range has expanded N in previous century, up to 200 km in Morocco, with similar expansions in Algeria and Tunisia. Regarded as sacred... read more

Recommended citation

Ryan, P. (2020). House Bunting (Emberiza sahari). 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 25 February 2020).