Family Old World Buntings (Emberizidae)

Least Concern

Ortolan Bunting (Emberiza hortulana)


French: Bruant ortolan German: Ortolan Spanish: Escribano hortelano

Emberiza Hortulana


, 1758,



Proposed race elisabethae (Uliastai, in NW Mongolia) seems based on individual variability. Monotypic.


Europe from N Fennoscandia (almost reaching Arctic Circle) S, very patchily, to N Portugal, C Spain, S France, Italy, Greece, Crete, Turkey and (rare) N Israel, extending E across European Russia, Ukraine and N Caspian region to N Kazakhstan and Altai and Khangai Ranges in NW & WC Mongolia and, in S, through Caucasus, N Iraq and N Iran to borders of Turkmenistan; also N Africa (coastal Algeria). Non-breeding range not well known, probably mountains along S fringes of Sahara, where recorded from Mauritania and Senegal to Nigeria in W, and Sudan E to Ethiopia and Somalia in E, and probably includes Yemen and Oman.

Descriptive notes

16–17 cm; 17–28·1 g. Relatively stocky bunting with comparatively short tail. Male in spring (plumage worn) has olive or greyish-olive head and breast,... read more


Song, from prominent treetop or bush, rarely in short song flight, a short phrase of 5–6... read more


Breeds in lightly wooded dry, open country, both in plains and on hill and mountain slopes,... read more

Food and feeding

During breeding season feeds chiefly on wide variety of invertebrates, including ants (Formicidae), beetles (Coleoptera) and grasshoppers (... read more


Eggs reported from mid-Apr in S of range, until early Jun in N. Monogamous, rarely polygamous; pair-bond lasts for one season only. Nest... read more


Migratory; after breeding, moves to N part of sub-Saharan Africa. Breeding areas vacated from mid-... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Widespread and abundant. Europe holds 3,330,000–7,070,000 pairs, with the following estimates for European populations (numbers... read more

Recommended citation

Madge, S. & Sharpe, C.J. (2020). Ortolan Bunting (Emberiza hortulana). 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 February 2020).