Birds on Stamps

Emberiza schoeniclus 

Emberiza schoeniclus

In English en

The Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) is an approximately Chaffinch-sized bird of the Emberizidae-family buntings, which has of six other species in our country. At spring, the Reed Buntings arrive onto our country over a fairly long time span, from the end of March until the end of May. Their return migration back to their winter areas, mainly in west and southwest Europe, takes place fairly regularly at the middle of September, with the main migration at the end of the month. Occasionally, perhaps a bit more regularly nowadays with the climate change, some of the Reed Buntings attempt to spend the winter on our southern coast and in Åland. The bird migrates both at night and at daytime.

The Reed Bunting lives throughout Finland, but is most numerous in the northern parts. Overall its nesting stock is estimated to be about 300.000 couples.

The Reed Bunting is a typical territorial species, seeking out its territory from damp, bushy areas. It’s not too picky about it, as long as there’s at least some willow thicket, alder or reed bed available. The female builds the nest, usually at the root of a bush, out of grass, with the interior lining consisting of hair or some such material. Around the middle of May, the female lays, on average, five cyan, black-patterned eggs. Both parents brood the eggs, and they hatch after around two weeks. Both of the parents also feed the hatchlings with insects, with a side dish of spiders and other invertebrates. The young birds leave the nest at around one and half weeks of age, and have some flying ability when two weeks old. The parents feed the young birds for about a month.

A Reed Bunting, when disturbed during nesting, will pretend to be crippled, in order to draw the disturber’s attention away from the nest.

By its coloration, the bird is mainly brown and beige-white with dark stripes in all of its plumages, excluding the male’s summer plumage. In summer, the male’s head, neck and part of the chest turns black. At this time the neck ring is also pure white, and the small white moustachial stripes  break the otherwise whole blackness of the head. This is how the bird which is often met in still leafless willows looks like, later on it tends to “disappear”.

The male can’t really be confused with other species nesting in Finland while in summer plumage. A Lapland Bunting in its autumn plumage might be confused with the Reed Bunting, but its maroon neck reveals the truth.


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