Family Old World Buntings (Emberizidae)

Least Concern

Slaty Bunting (Emberiza siemsseni)


French: Bruant bleu German: Blauammer Spanish: Escribano azul

Junco siemsseni

G. H. Martens

, 1906,

Mia River region, Fuzhou, Fujian, China


Originally described in genus Junco (male plumage superficially resembling that of “slate-coloured” populations of Junco hyemalis), but soon placed in a monotypic genus Latoucheornis, itself later submerged into Emberiza; sometimes treated in Schoeniclus. Differs from typical Emberiza in unstreaked male plumage and very rufous female plumage, very small bill, and strangely shaped tail feathers, but molecular studies indicate that differences from that genus minor. Phylogenetic analyses indicate that this species is, surprisingly, a sister-species of E. elegans. Monotypic.


C China in S Gansu and S Shaanxi (from Taibai Shan) S to W Sichuan (Nan Chuan range and valleys at E edge of Tibetan Plateau; probably also in NE Sichuan); probably also farther E, in Anhui (Huang Shan, perhaps Dabie Shan#R). In non-breeding season widely recorded at lower elevations in Sichuan, W Hubei, Anhui, Yunnan, Guizhou, Fujian and N Guangdong.

Descriptive notes

13 cm; c. 20 g. Highly distinctive plumages; tail feathers unusual, relatively broad towards tip, but tapering to narrow base, bill comparatively small and neat, and hind... read more


Song rather high in pitch and variable in content, containing parid-like phrases and snatches... read more


Breeds in subtropical valley forests in hills and mountains, chiefly between 1500 m and 2100 m;... read more

Food and feeding

Few data. Seemingly chiefly small invertebrates, certainly so in breeding season, when recorded as taking small beetles (Coleoptera), ants... read more


Virtually undocumented. Nest-building reported in early Jun in Sichuan, but perhaps begins as early as early May in some areas; singing... read more


Altitudinal and short-distance migrant. Post-breeding descent to much lower elevations than those... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Restricted-range species: present in Central Sichuan Mountains EBA. Despite being relatively little studied, this bunting is not considered to... read more

Recommended citation

Madge, S. (2020). Slaty Bunting (Emberiza siemsseni). 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 19 February 2020).