Family Old World Buntings (Emberizidae)

Least Concern

Somali Bunting (Emberiza poliopleura)


French: Bruant de Somalie German: Somaliammer Spanish: Escribano somalí

Fringillaria poliopleura


, 1888,

Soddè, Shewa, Ethiopia


Sometimes placed in genus Fringillaria. Monotypic.


Locally from E & S Ethiopia and Somalia, also extreme SE South Sudan and NE Uganda, S through Kenya to NE Tanzania.

Descriptive notes

14–15 cm; 14–18 g. Male has head striped black and white, including prominent white median crownstripe (white stripes may be washed brown in fresh plumage);... read more


Male song a series of 4–6 ringing whistles, “tswit, tsuwee tsuwee tsuwee”,... read more


Semi-arid and arid acacia (Acacia) scrub; to 2000 m in Ethiopian Rift Valley and to 1500 m... read more

Food and feeding

Diet mainly grass seeds; also some soft green leaves and insects, including termites (Isoptera), beetle larvae (Coleoptera) and moths (... read more


Little known. Season mainly Apr–Jun (rarely Sept) in Ethiopia, Somalia and N Kenya, and Nov–Jan in S Kenya and Tanzania. Nest a cup of... read more


Presumably mostly resident. Occasionally attracted to lights at night in Kenya, and one... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Fairly common in most of fragmented range. Density 1 bird/ha in Tsavo East National Park, in Kenya.

Recommended citation

Ryan, P. (2020). Somali Bunting (Emberiza poliopleura). 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).