This species is migratory (see range). It is vagrant in Alaska, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and also in W and S Europe (Britain, Portugal and Italy). It is recorded as resident on St. Lawrence Island.

It performs short flights close to the vegetation. The rapid wingbeats are interspersed with glides on almost closed wings.          

The breeding season occurs in June/July in N, and to August in S.
The Pallas’s Reed Bunting nests on the ground or in low vegetation. The cup-shaped nest is made with grass, sedges and moss, and lined with softer material.
The female lays 3-5 creamy/reddish-brown eggs with darker markings. The incubation lasts 12-14 days, mainly by female, but both parents feed the chicks. The young fledge 10-12 days after hatching.

The Pallas’s Reed Bunting is locally common to very common throughout its large range.
The only threat is the extensive killing of buntings for food in China. Climate change may affect the species in the future.
The population is suspected to be stable, and the species is not globally threatened.  
The Pallas’s Reed Bunting is currently evaluated as Least Concern.

Fr: Bruant de Pallas
Ang: Pallas's Reed Bunting
All: Pallasammer
Esp: Escribano de Pallas
Ita: Migliarino di Pallas
Nd: Pallas' Rietgors
Sd: dvärgsävsparv


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HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD Vol 16 by Josep del Hoyo- Andrew Elliot-David Christie – Lynx Edicions – ISBN: 9788496553781

Buntings and Sparrows Par Clive Byers,Urban Olsson,Jon Curson – Editeur : A&C Black, 2013 – ISBN: 1408189062, 9781408189061 – 264 pages


GUIDE HEINZEL des Oiseaux d’Europe de Hermann Heinzel, Richard Fitter et John Parslow – Delachaux et Niestlé – ISBN : 2603014862

A Guide to the Identification and Natural History of the Sparrows of the Sparrows of the United States and Canada De James D. Rising - A&C Black, 2010 – ISBN: 1408134608, 9781408134603 – 379 page

Avibase (Denis Lepage)

Birdlife International

HBW Alive

Pallas’s Bunting Emberiza pallasi: a new species for Nepal and the Indian subcontinent – Kazakhstan birdwatching community

What Bird-The ultimate Bird Guide (Mitchell Waite)

Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia


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Summary cards


Pallas’s Reed Bunting
Emberiza pallasi

Passeriformes Order – Emberizidae Family

The Pallas’s Reed Bunting is found across C Asia to Mongolia, and it winters in SE Asia where the species is described as widespread. It frequents various habitat types such as grasslands, arctic tundra and alpine meadows.
The male shows similar pattern that the male Common Reed Bunting, especially the head pattern in breeding plumage.
It feeds on invertebrates and seeds, depending on the season. It forages on the ground, often at tip of grasses to collect seeds. It joins large mixed-species foraging flocks outside breeding season. It nests in a cup-shaped structure placed on or near the ground in the low vegetation. This species is migratory.
The Pallas’s Reed Bunting has large range in which it is described as locally to very common. The species is not globally threatened for the moment.

Length: 13-14 cm

The Pallas’s Reed Bunting male of nominate race in breeding plumage has black head and throat with conspicuous white moustachial stripe and white nuchal collar.
On the upperparts, mantle and scapulars are blackish with pale buff fringes and chestnut tips to feathers. The back is pale buffy-grey with black streaks. The rump is white, whereas the uppertail-coverts are pale with indistinct chestnut streaking. The tail is black with pale edges to feathers. On the dark brown upperwing, the secondaries have pale edges and the tertials have black centres. The lesser coverts are bluish-grey. Two white wingbars are formed by the tips of both median and greater coverts.
On the underparts, chin and throat are black. Breast, belly and undertail-coverts are pale buff to white, with some streaks on flanks.
The bill is blackish. The eyes are dark chestnut. Legs and feet are flesh-brown.

The adult male in winter has less conspicuous black-and-white head pattern, concealed by the pale feather’s edges, and the head appears mostly sandy brown with dark streaking. There is a thin, blackish moustachial stripe.
The upperparts are more sandy-coloured, with rufous wash on mantle and broader edges and tips to the wing feathers. The underparts are tinged yellowish-buff. Chin and throat are mottled black.
The bill has blackish upper mandible and pinkish lower mandible.
The 1st winter male resembles male in winter, but the lesser coverts are grey-brown and the eyes are mostly dark brown.

The breeding female resembles 1st winter male, but she has faint reddish-brown streaking on rump.
The non-breeding female has grey-brown upperwing coverts.        
The 1st winter female is similar to the non-breeding female, with dark grey-brown eyes and more pointed tail feathers.  

The juvenile resembles breeding female, but the olive-brown crown is streaked dark with pale supercilium and rufescent ear-coverts. The scapulars are blackish with buffy edges, and the rump is pale sandy brown with brown streaking. There is a conspicuous, dark malar stripe. The breast is yellowish with dense dark streaking. The eyes are dark grey-brown.

The Pallas’s Reed Bunting has three subspecies.
E.p. polaris breeds in NE European Russia E in Siberia to Chukotskiy Peninsula, Sea of Okhotsk and N Kamchatka. It winters in NE and E China, extreme SE Russia and Korea.
This race is slightly smaller and more streaked than nominate. The back is darker in winter.

E.p. pallasi (described above) breeds in Altai and Sayan Mts E to Transbaikalia and W Amurland, and S to N Mongolia and maybe NE China and E Tien Shan. It winters in W and N China.  

E.p. lydiae (Mongolian Bunting) breeds in S Siberia through N, C and E Mongolia, and probably to adjacent NE China. The non-breeding range is probably in N China.
This race is paler above than breeding nominate race, with brownish (not black) upperwing coverts and centre of back feathers, and pale buff edges.


The Pallas’s Reed Bunting breeds in tundra with tall grassland and shrubs, whereas in lowland tundra, it frequents river valleys with thickets of dwarf willows. It also breeds in high mountains in grasslands, at about 2,000 metres of elevation in Siberia.
The race E.p. lydiae breeds in drier habitats, in stands of tussock grass between wetlands and steppes.
During winter, it frequents lowlands and plains, preferring irrigated areas with some shrubs and reeds near rivers and lakes. It is also found in cultivated fields.

The Pallas’s Reed Bunting’s usual call is a sweet “tsleep” and a more Tawny Pipit-like “chelup”. We can also hear a quiet “sip-sip”.
The song often given from perch is a monotonous series of same notes “swee swee swee swee” or “srri srri srri srri”.
The song of E.p. lydiae has similar structure but the motif is slightly different “tsisi tsisi tsisi tsisi”.

The Pallas’s Reed Bunting feeds on insects and seeds year-round, and other plant material such as seeds of alder, crowberries (Empetrum) and Stipa grasses. However, during the breeding season, it feeds mainly on various invertebrates including Lepidopterans, adult and larval Dipterans, larval sawflies (Symphyta) and Coleopterans.
It usually forages on the ground or in low vegetation, and collects seeds at tip of grasses. It feeds mainly in wet meadows, whereas E.p. lydiae forages mostly in dry tussock.
They join large mixed-species foraging flocks outside breeding season, but they are seen alone or in pairs when breeding.

The Pallas’s Reed Bunting nests on or near the ground in low vegetation. The nests are placed 30-50 metres apart.