Family Old World Buntings (Emberizidae)

Least Concern

Pallas’s Bunting (Emberiza pallasi)


French: Bruant de Pallas German: Pallasammer Spanish: Escribano de Pallas
Other common names: Pallas's Reed Bunting

Cynchramus pallasi


, 1851,

near Selenga River, Transbaikalia


Closely related to E. yessoensis and E. schoeniclus, and all three sometimes placed in genus Schoeniclus. Race minor of E. schoeniclus sometimes included in present species. Significance of geographical variation not fully understood, and possibly linked to variation in habitat preferences; further study required. Race lydiae, although weakly marked in plumage, differs in ecology, but whether it differs in voice (as stated in HBW) unclear; research needed. Race polaris exhibits partially clinal variation, with gradation towards darker plumage and more heavily streaked rump in E of range. Proposed race montana and its synonym suschkiniana (described from SE Russian Altai) considered synonymous with nominate, and latolineata (from Kolyma Peninsula) with polaris. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • E. p. polaris Middendorff, 1853 – NE European Russia E in Siberia (S to basins of R Angara, R Lena and R Aldan) to Chukotskiy Peninsula, Sea of Okhotsk coast and N Kamchatka; winters in NE & E China, extreme SE Russia (S Ussuriland) and Korea.
  • E. p. pallasi (Cabanis, 1851) – Pallas's Bunting – Altai and Sayan Mts E to Transbaikalia and W Amurland (S of Tukuringra Mts) and S to N Mongolia and possibly NE China (Inner Mongolia, N Heilongjiang), perhaps also disjunctly in E Tien Shan; winters in W & N China (Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia).
  • E. p. lydiae Portenko, 1928 – #RMongolian Bunting – S Siberia (Tuva and S Transbaikalia) through N, C & E Mongolia, probably to adjacent NE China (NE Inner Mongolia); non-breeding probably in N China.
  • Descriptive notes

    12–13·5 cm; 10–20 g. Small bunting, bill comparatively short and narrow with straight culmen. Male nominate race breeding has black head and throat,... read more


    Song, normally from bushtop, also from top of tall grasses or herbs, a simple monotonous phrase... read more


    Breeds at high latitudes in tundra and forest-tundra with tall herbage, and shrubs (for songposts... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mostly invertebrates during breeding, and seeds and other plant material throughout year. Insects taken also during winter. Invertebrates... read more


    Season Jun–Jul in N of range, to Aug in S. Nest made from grasses and sedges (Carex), lined with fine grasses and hair,... read more


    Migratory. Race polaris winters mainly E China (C Heilongjiang S to Yangtze Valley),... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally common to very common. Has extensive breeding range across N parts of Eurasia; also a probable isolated population in Ordos... read more

    Recommended citation

    Copete, J.L. (2020). Pallas’s Bunting (Emberiza pallasi). 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).