Black-Headed Bunting

The Black-Headed Bunting, with its striking plumage and melodious voice, is a true wonder of the avian world. From its sleek black hood to its vibrant yellow underparts, this feathered friend is a sight to behold. With a delicate frame and agile movements, it flits from branch to branch, bringing a burst of color to even the dullest of landscapes.

And when it begins to sing, all other sounds fade away, as if in deference to its ethereal melody. Its trill is like a silver thread woven through the air, lifting spirits and soothing troubled souls. Oh, what a joy it is to hear the Black-Headed Bunting’s song, to witness its grace and beauty in flight. Truly, it is a gift from nature to be treasured and admired.

Bird CharacteristicDescription
Common NameBlack-Headed Bunting
Scientific NameEmberiza melanocephala
Colour (s)Brown, black, white, and yellow
Average Length16 – 17 cm
Average Height16 – 18 cm
Weight18 – 26 g
Type of BirdGrassland
Origin country (ies)Breeds in Central Asia and Southeast Europe
Month it comes to IndiaMarch – October
Location in IndiaNorthern and Western India
IUCN statusLeast Concern


The Black-Headed Bunting is a small, yet strikingly colorful bird that is native to parts of Europe and Asia. Its most notable feature is, as the name suggests, its black head, which is offset by a vibrant yellow band above its eyes and a rusty-brown back.

In terms of size, the Black-Headed Bunting stands at around 15-16 centimeters (6-6.5 inches) tall, and weighs between 20-30 grams (0.7-1.1 ounces). Its wingspan is roughly 22-26 centimeters (8.5-10 inches), and its body length measures around 13-14 centimeters (5-5.5 inches).

Despite its small size, the Black-Headed Bunting is a fairly fast and agile flier, able to reach speeds of up to 50 km/h (31 mph) when in flight. Its wings are relatively short and rounded, but powerful enough to propel it through the air with ease.

Habitat and Food

The Black-Headed Bunting can be found in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, open woodlands, and scrublands. It prefers areas with a mix of vegetation, such as tall grasses, shrubs, and scattered trees, where it can forage for food and nest.

In terms of diet, the Black-Headed Bunting is an omnivorous bird, feeding on a wide range of food items. During the breeding season, it primarily feeds on insects, such as grasshoppers, beetles, and caterpillars, as well as spiders and other small invertebrates. It may also consume seeds and fruits, particularly during the non-breeding season when insects are less abundant.


The Black-Headed Bunting is a migratory bird that breeds in Europe and Central Asia and winters in South Asia, including India. These birds start their migration from their breeding grounds in Europe and Central Asia in late summer or early fall, around August to September. They travel across the continents in large flocks, following established migration routes and flyways.

During their migration to India, the Black-Headed Bunting passes through several countries, including Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan, before arriving in India in October or November. They usually stay in India until March or April before returning to their breeding grounds.

In India, the Black-Headed Bunting can be found in various states, including Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Karnataka, as well as other parts of South India. They are often spotted in agricultural areas, grasslands, and scrublands, where they feed on seeds, insects, and other small invertebrates.

The purpose of their migration to India is primarily for wintering, as the harsh winter conditions in their breeding grounds make it difficult for them to survive. During their stay in India, some of these birds may also engage in breeding activities, particularly in the southern parts of the country.

As the weather begins to warm up in their breeding grounds, the Black-Headed Bunting leaves India and begins their migration back to their breeding grounds in Europe and Central Asia in March or April. The journey back is arduous, and many of these birds do not survive the long flight, making their annual migration a truly remarkable feat of endurance and perseverance.

IUCN Status

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) currently lists the Black-headed Bunting as a species of “Least Concern” on its Red List of Threatened Species.

This means that the species is not currently facing significant threats to its population or habitat, and is generally considered to be stable across its range. However, there are some local populations that may be experiencing declines due to habitat loss and fragmentation, particularly in areas where agricultural practices are intensifying.

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