Family Old World Buntings (Emberizidae)

Least Concern

Meadow Bunting (Emberiza cioides)


French: Bruant à longue queue German: Wiesenammer Spanish: Escribano de Brandt

Emberiza cioides

J. F. Brandt

, 1843,



Japanese race ciopsis rather distinct both in head colour and in vocalizations, and could be worthy of species status; further study needed. Geographical variation otherwise somewhat clinal, involving size and colour saturation: other proposed races include shiretokoensis (described from E Hokkaido, in N Japan), synonymized with ciopsis; in SE Russia, ussuriensis (from Ussuri) and vagans (from mouth of Sidemi, in Amur Bay and mid-Ussuri), both subsumed into weigoldi; and, in China, tangutorum (from near Xining, in E Qinghai), treated as synonym of nominate. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • E. c. tarbagataica Sushkin, 1925 – SW Altai in E Kazakhstan and NW China (N Xinjiang) S to C & E Tien Shan.
  • E. c. cioides J. F. Brandt, 1843 – Siberian Meadow Bunting – SC Siberia from E Altai E to Mongolia and adjacent Transbaikalia (Buryatia) in EC Russia, and S to NC China (E Qinghai).
  • E. c. weigoldi Jacobi, 1923 – E of Transbaikalia in SE Russia (Amurland and Ussuriland), S to NE China (S to Hebei) and N Korea.
  • E. c. castaneiceps F. Moore, 1856 – E China (S of Hebei) and S Korea.
  • E. c. ciopsis Bonaparte, 1850 – Japanese Meadow Bunting – Sakhalin and Kuril Is S through Japanese islands to Yakushima (S of Kyushu); winters in C & S Japan.
  • Descriptive notes

    17 cm; 17–26 g. Relatively large and long-tailed bunting. Male nominate race breeding (plumage worn) has crown chestnut, relatively broad white supercilium, chestnut... read more


    Song, from top of small bush or tall tree, a short, simple phrase very similar to that of E.... read more


    Found in all manner of lightly wooded rolling hills and mountain foothills; rocky areas of steppe... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet chiefly grass and weed seeds, augmented by invertebrates during summer. Feeds mostly on ground, hopping with hunched posture. In... read more


    Season Apr–Aug; two and often three broods. Monogamous. Nest built by female alone, a cup of rootlets and grasses, lined with finer... read more


    Mostly sedentary or, at most, a short-distance migrant. Remains close to breeding areas in winter,... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common locally over most of its breeding range; little evidence of any marked decreases in recent decades. Densities of up to 80 birds/km² reported... read more

    Recommended citation

    Madge, S. (2020). Meadow Bunting (Emberiza cioides). 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).