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Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Reed Bunting

Hebrides bird sightings - Reed Bunting
Female Reed Bunting

Reed Bunting

(Fen Sparrow, Reed Sparrow)

Emberzia schoeniclus

Caelic: Gealag Lòin


Photograph © Debbie Bozkurt
Drimsdale - South Uist - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
2nd January, 2007


Our Reed Bunting photographs

Reed Bunting
Reed Bunting
Reed Bunting
Reed Bunting


  • Reed Bunting
  • Emberiza schoeniclus
  • UK: Resident Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor
  • UK: RED LIST (major decline), 202,000 pairs (Summer) BTO
  • UK: Fairly common resident breeder (100-999 breeding pairs) Uists & Benbecula, uncommon (10-99 breeding pairs) breeder Lewis & Harris
  • Breeding: Reedbeds & drier open areas, moorland. Tussocks & bushes. Europe, Asia, North Africa
  • Habitat: Reedbed, other wet vegetation, riverine scrub (recent times - also farmland & gardens in winter)
  • Diet: Seeds in sedges, reed, rushes. Also insects in breeding season
  • Sparrow-sized, slim. Long & deeply notched tail. Male black head & throat, white collar & below. Drooping moustache. Females & winter males: streaked brown head, streaked below. Flight: tail looks black with broad, white edges. Singing male usually perches at top of bushes, reeds.
  • Max recorded age 9yrs 11mth, average 3yrs
  • Listen to a Reed Bunting (RSPB site)
  • Similar birds: Lapland Buntings

Distinguishing between winter male and female Reed Buntings

You can see a little black left in the head of some of the winter male Reed Buntings (in summer the head of the male is all black with a white "moustache"). The female's head is never black.

The females are more buff below, the males whitish.

You will notice no eye stripe in the male either and much richer colouring of the mantle, back and wings. (Terry Fountain)


Less than half the chicks raised by a pair of Reed Buntings are fathered by the pair male. The lowest recorded rate in any bird species.


Reed Bunting records in the Western Isles

Fairly common resident breeder (100-999 breeding pairs) Uists & Benbecula, uncommon (10-99 breeding pairs) breeder Lewis & Harris
Source: Outer Hebrides Bird Report (2001)


On the chart below the darker the shade of blue the more abundant the Reed Bunting is during a month or the more likely you are to see it.

























(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)



Debbie's online photo album

Other local bird photographs

Sources of information for the bird sightings section

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