[order] Passeriformes | [family] Emberizidae | [latin] Emberiza striolata | [UK] House Bunting | [FR] Bruant striolé | [DE] Hausammer | [ES] Escribano Sahariano | [IT] Zigolo delle case | [NL] Huisgors

Huisgors determination

copyright: Josep del Hoyo

13-14 cm; wing-span 21.5-26 cm. 15-20% shorter and much slighter than Rock Bunting, Cretzschmar‘s Bunting, and Cinnamon-breasted Rock Bunting, with rather stubby bill, somewhat small head, and narrow tail. Rather small, delicate, cryptically plumaged bunting, with dark rufous-edged tail. Western race sahari tame and rather dull, with little-marked grey and rufous-buff plumage; larger eastern race nominate striolata shyer and more puzzling, with blackish stripes on head of typical male suggesting Rock Bunting or (even more) Cinnamon-breasted Rock Bunting. Tail dull brownish-black with rufous (not white) edges to outer feathers.
Confusing. Where not commensal with man, difficult to observe due to small size and cryptic plumage producing distinctive ‚will of the wisp‘ character. When size not apparent, can be confused in Middle East with migrant Cretzschmar‘s Bunting and allies (pink bill, bright eye-ring, more streaked above and on wings, white outer tail-feathers); in north-west Africa, particularly in winter, with Rock Bunting (grey bill, white bar on median coverts, rufous-chestnut rump, white outer tail-feathers); and with potential vagrant from north-east Africa and Arabia, Cinnamon-breasted Rock Bunting (also short-winged but noticeably longer tailed, more strongly marked head with fully black or blackish throat and bib, much darker streaks on back and centres to wing-coverts, dark-spotted rump, and different calls).

Situation confused by existence of ecologically distinct races, one of which (sahari of north-west Africa) has long been largely adapted to commensalism with man in inhabited settlements, while nominate striolata in Asia has remained attached to natural rocky habitat apart from having colonized some ruins of forts and other buildings. In north-west Africa, replaces House Sparrow in villages on edge of desert, even entering houses and shops. Also sometimes found in wild desolate places, at some altitude, but never in open desert. Nominate striolata in Asia lives in arid areas on rocky slopes with sparse vegetation; when found in desert and semi-desert is usually within reach of water. In winter, spreads to sandy plains, tamarisk scrub, and grass areas near canals, feeding on ground.

E. s. sahari Levaillant, 1850, North Africa east to western Egypt, south to northern Niger and northern Chad; perhaps this race in Mauritania; nominate striolata (Lichtenstein, 1823), from Sinai, extreme south-east Egypt, eastern Sudan, and Eritrea east through southern Levant and Arabia (except south-west) to north-west India. Extra-limital: jebelmarrae Lynes, 1920, west-central Sudan; saturatior Sharpe, 1901, central and southern Ethiopia to Somalia and northern Kenya, also Yemen; sanghae Traylor, 1960, southern Mali, and (perhaps this race) Sénégal.

Seeds, mostly of grasses; invertebrates in breeding season. In North Africa, very dependent on man, feeding in streets, inside houses, restaurants, etc., and on rubbish tips and dung heaps, though also on ground in rocky country. In east of range, however, generally forages far from human habitation.

This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 1,000,000-10,000,000 km². The global population size has not been quantified, but it is believed to be large as the species is described as 'common' in at least parts of its range (Snow and Perrins 1998). Global population trends have not been quantified, but there is evidence of a population increase (Snow and Perrins 1998), and so the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]

May build multiple nests before finally laying the eggs. Nest is built by both sexes in three days. The untidy nest cup is made of dry, thin as well as stout, short twigs, and was lined with soft grass inflorescence and feathers. Eggs are laid in asynchronous manner, every 24 hours and three eggs are usually laid, but hatching is synchronous on the same day, indicating that incubation begins after the last egg is laid. Female incubates alone. Clutch size of three was observed in three nests. Incubation period is 14 days and fledging period is 15 days. Seeds and grain constitute the initial diet of the chicks followed by a switch over to insects and grub from the eighth day when flight feathers develop. Feeding by both parents is by regurgitation

Essentially sedentary, but with short distance movements in some populations. Nominate resident in Egypt. In Israel, resident in some places but mostly makes local movements. E. s. saturatior described as resident and wanderer in northern Kenya. In Morocco sahari, some wandering after breeding season.