Slaty Bunting Emberiza siemsseni 藍鵐

Category I. Accidental.


13 cm. A distinctive species due to the overall uniformity of plumage tone in both sexes. Structurally compact with a rounded body and short neck. Adult males are slaty-grey over most of the wings and body, apart from white lower belly vent and undertail coverts. First-winter males have brownish wings.

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Dec. 2022, Peter Ho. First-winter female.

On females the head and mantle are dull buff-brown with slightly darker feather centres, while the chest is paler and warmer. The wing coverts and remiges are dull greyish with indistinct dull buff fringes. The centre of the belly and ventral area, and the undertail coverts are whitish. The bill is grey, and the legs and feet are dull flesh.


Although it gives a typical bunting soft ‘tik’ call, other calls are high-pitched and clear, including a louder and stronger ‘tik’ when excited. A typical call appears to be a ‘seee’ that falls in pitch and is similar to alarm calls of tits Parus. This is uttered singly, doubly or repeated for long intervals.

The song is a short, variable, high-pitched phrase that usually includes the call note.


A forest-inhabiting species that was recorded at Tai Po Kau.


2013: a female at Tai Po Kau during 8-17 February 2013.


Monotypic. A China endemic that largely breeds in the area between the Yellow River and the Yangtze from southern Qinghai and Sichuan in the west to Henan and western Hubei in the east (Liu and Chen 2020). In the non-breeding season can be found to the southeast of this area in Guizhou, Guangxi and Hunan, as well as along the Chang Jiang (Yangtze River) as far as the coast.


IUCN: Least Concern. Population trend stable.

Tang, W. W. S. and Chow, G. K. L. (2015). Slaty Bunting Emberiza siemsseni at Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve. The first Hong Kong record. Hong Kong Bird Report 2013: 286-289.

Liu, Y. and Chen, Y. H. (eds) (2020). The CNG Field Guide to the Birds of China (in Chinese). Hunan Science and Technology Publication House.

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