Black-headed Bunting
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Clade: Inopinaves
Order: Passeriformes
Suborder: Passeri
Clade: Nine-primaried oscines
Epifamily: Icteroidae
Clade: Bunting and sparrow group
Family: Emberizidae
Vigors, 1825[1]
Genus: Emberiza
Linnaeus, 1758

The buntings, Emberizidae, Emberiza are a family of passerine birds. They are seed-eating birds with a distinctively shaped bill. They are divided into four subgenera.

Other buntings are found in Cardinalidae and Passerellidae.


Emberizids are small birds, typically around 15 cm in length, with finch-like bills and nine primary feathers. The family ranges in size from the Sporophila seedeaters, the smaller species of which are about 10 cm and weigh 9–10 grams, to the Abert's Towhee, at 24 cm (9.5 in), and the shorter-tailed, but chunkier Canyon Towhee, at 54 grams (1.9 oz). They live in a variety of habitats, including woodland, brush, marsh, and grassland. The Old World species tend to have brown, streaked, plumage, although some New World species can be very brightly coloured. Many species have distinctive head patterns. Their diet consists mainly of seeds, but may be supplemented with insects, especially when feeding the young.[2]

The habits of emberizids are similar to those of finches, with which they sometimes used to be grouped. Older sources may place some emberizids in the Fringillidae, and the common names of some emberizids still refer to them as finches. With a few exceptions, emberizids build cup-shaped nests from grasses and other plant fibres, and are monogamous.[2]


The relationships of these birds with other groups within the huge nine-primaried oscine assemblage are at this point largely unresolved. Indeed relationships within the Emberizidae as defined here are uncertain with the possibility that each of the three main groups may not be all that closely related.


The results of a recent biochemical study[3] suggest that Melophus, Latoucheornis, and Miliaria may be related to various members of Emberiza and perhaps should be subsumed within that genus.

In other families


Chlorospingus seems to belong here too.[citation needed]

The following are a group of apparently closely related neotropical sparrows known as the brush-finches


Genera belonging elsewhere

The rest of the traditional Emberizidae are listed below. While they do not form a natural group most appear to be closer to various tanager genera, and for the largest part they are often known collectively as tanager-finches.


  1. ^ John H. Boyd III (September 12, 2011). "CORE PASSEROIDEA IV: Emberizidae and Passerellidae". TiF Checklist. Retrieved 9-08-2020.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  2. ^ a b Baptista, Luis F. (1991). Forshaw, Joseph, ed. Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds. London: Merehurst Press. pp. 210–212. ISBN 1-85391-186-0. 
  3. ^ Alström, P., Olsson, U., Lei, F., Wang, H-t., Gao, W. & Sundberg, P. Phylogeny and classification of the Old World Emberizini (Aves, Passeriformes). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 47, pp. 960-973.
  4. ^ Klicka J, Zink RM, Winker K. 2003. Longspurs and snow buntings: phylogeny and biogeography of a high-latitude clade (Calcarius). Mol Phylogenet Evol. Feb;26(2):165-75.

External links

Sterna diversity This article is part of Project Bird Families, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each bird family, including made-up families.
Hemipus picatus This article is part of Project Bird Taxonomy, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on every order, family and other taxonomic rank related to birds.
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