Saturday, 16 April 2016

Bird of the week - Reed bunting

It has been a good couple of weeks for unusual visitors in the garden.  After last week's brambling I have also seen a handsome male reed bunting.  I see the odd one, always a male, at this time of year, presumably because there is less natural food around.  He stays only a short time before hurrying back to claim a territory in the reed beds.

Female reed buntings are very attractive but I have never seen one in the garden.  These photos were taken at Big Waters.

These two photos show the shape of the reed bunting's beak and how it uses its tongue to manoeuvre the seed before it is crushed.

BTO Garden BirdWatch data show that reed buntings (Emberiza schoeniclus) are seen in up to 5% of gardens in late winter / early spring and numbers have been increasing in recent years.

Reed buntings leave the reedbeds in autumn and feed on seeds with mixed flocks of buntings and finches in the winter. Along with many of these birds their numbers declined with changes in agriculture and at one time they were on the red list.
Reed buntings are fairly widespread in lowland areas of the British Isles, apart from the south.

This map shows they are in decline in much of the south of the country.

Listen to the song of a reed bunting here.  Listen to Sir David Attenborough's BBC Radio 4 Tweet of the Day on the reed bunting here.

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