[order] Passeriformes | [family] Emberizidae | [latin] Emberiza pallasi | [UK] Pallass Bunting | [FR] Bruant de Pallas | [DE] Pallas-Ammer | [ES] Escribano de Palla | [IT] Zigolo del Pallas | [NL] Pallas-rietgors

Pallas-rietgors determination

No film available

13-14 cm; wing-span 20.5-23 cm. Over 10% smaller than Reed Bunting but with similar form except for straight culmen, flatter crown, and slimmer body; only marginally larger than Little Bunting, with similarly pointed bill. 2nd smallest bunting of west Palearctic, closely resembling Reed Bunting in general character, plumage pattern and tail spreading, but having usually distinctive calls. At close range, compared with western Reed Bunting, both sexes show much more streaked upperparts (due to distinctively paler fringes to back and wing-feathers emphasizing black-brown centres), usually pale greyish rump, and only lightly marked underparts. Identification confirmed by dull (never rufous) lesser wing-coverts, bright double wing-bar, and pale panel on folded wing (but only 2nd of these obvious on juvenile). Adult male further distinguished by yellowish to buffish tinge to rear collar, white rump, and virtually unstreaked underparts; adult female and immature by much more uniform head (lacking obvious dark borders to crown and ear-coverts of Reed Bunting) and heavy black malar stripes turning into throat (and not breaking up to form obvious streaks on underparts).

Breeds mainly in east Palearctic, in drier and cooler situations than overlapping Reed Bunting, occupying tundra with tall herbage and shrubs, but also shrubs and grass areas of steppes and semi-desert and, in south, mountain tundra. Northern populations inhabit river valleys with thickets of willow and alder in lowland tundra. Further south, breeds on high plateaux up to 2200-2500 m, in dwarf birch and other shrub growth. Winters in plains, preferring irrigated areas with shrubs and stands of reeds near rivers and lakes.

Emberiza pallasi has a predominantly Asian breeding distribution, which just extends into Europe in northernmost Russia. Its European breeding population is relatively small (<150,000 pairs), but its trend between 1970-1990 was unknown. Trend data were also unavailable for 1990-2000, but there is no evidence to suggest that the species declined. Consequently, it is provisionally evaluated as Secure.

Seeds and other plant material, invertebrates in breeding season.

This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 10,000,000 kmē. It has a large global population, including an estimated 160,000-300,000 individuals in Europe (BirdLife International in prep.). Global population trends have not been quantified, but 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]

Breeding in North-east European Russia: eggs laid from late June or early July; young generally fledged by end of July. Nest is well hidden on ground or tussock, or in depression in moss, lichen, etc., sheltered by shrub or grass; also less than c. 50 cm above ground in bush or small tree. Nest: rather flimsy foundation of dry stems and blades of grass and sedge, lined with similar but finer material, hair, and sometimes dry needles of larch. The eggs are sub-elliptical, smooth and glossy; creamy-pink to reddish-brown, sometimes darker towards broad end, with scattered blackish-brown spots, small blotches, and hairstreaks and greyish-brown undermarkings and scrawls. Clutch: 4-5 (3-6) incubate for about 11 days. In one case, young left nest at 10 days old.

Northern populations long-distance migrants; southern populations short-distance and altitudinal migrants (perhaps dispersive rather than migratory in south-west). West Palearctic breeding birds winter mainly in China; in autumn, leave breeding areas August-September, return early or mid-June.