A rare vagrant: Pine Buntings in Germany

FichtenammerThough a Pine Bunting (Emberiza leucocephalos) is present in the Winsener Marsch near the Lower Elbe south of Hamburg for some days now, the Pine Bunting is a real exception in Germany. No wonder, that the bird keeps the twitcher in Germany in suspense.

Several times in the last days a bright Bunting could be noticed between about 400 Yellowhammers (Emberiza citrinella), 4 Corn Buntings (Emberiza calandra) and many Finches (Chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs), European Greenfinches (Chloris chloris) and Goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis) and Eurasian Tree Sparrows (Passer montanus). The white edges on the wing feathers were striking. However, all of the bunting were very mobile and mostly far away from the observers.

The Pine Bunting is widespread in Siberia as a breeding bird in the open pine forest west to the Urals, although its range only barely extends into Europe during the breeding season. After the breeding season, the Pine Bunting generally migrates further south through Asia. In the western Palearctic, however, there are also areas where it is found quite regularly, albeit as a localized wintering bird. The bird can be seen quite regularly in northern Israel in winter. It is considered a rare winter in Italy (mainly in Tuscany) and even rarer in the south of France. It is interesting that Pine Bunting were a small but familiar part of italian avifauna in the 20th century. The species referred to as “unusual” migratory and overwintering birds were most frequently found in the northern regions; unfortunately often by being caught in a bird hunter’s nets. Before the early 1970s, Pine Bunting was an regular offer at city bird markets. Italian evidence then decreased significantly in line with the dwindling trade in passerine birds. It was not until 1995 that up to 50 wintering specimens were found by accident in a dune area near the mouth of the Serchio River in Tuscany.

One Pine Bunting can currently be observed on Mallorca, which has been there since December 2020. In the south of Europe it is therefore worthwhile to carry out a careful scanning of flocks of buntings.

In order to cope with the growing demand for top pictures of the rarer species of the Palearctic, Bird-lens.com endeavors to further expand the range of images of birds in the Western Palearctic. Trips to nearby and remote locations to snap pictures of rare birds of the Western Palearctic have been very successful. This picture of the blog – which was shot on Happy Island, an island in the Yellow Sea south of China –  is only a first impression, which you can find very soon in the gallery in the “Picture Shop“. Just leave a message if bird-lens.com can serve with an image.

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