Corn Bunting

Emberiza calandra


The Corn Bunting is a sparrow-sized, streaky brown bird of hedgerows and farmland. Corn Buntings feed on seeds and invertebrates. In the winter, they join mixed-species flocks of buntings, finches and sparrows to feed on seed in farmland. Male Corn Buntings are often seen perched on top of bushes singing loudly - a song that sounds just like a jangling set of keys. Male Corn Buntings may mate with up to 18 different females in a season. The female builds her grass nest in rough grassy margins or arable crops and incubates the eggs by herself. The male may help to feed the chicks once they have hatched.

How to identify

The Corn Bunting is a big, pale, streaky-brown bunting. It is most similar to the Skylark, but with a thicker bill and no crest. Larger than other buntings, but this group can be difficult to tell apart.

Where to find it

Widespread in the lowlands of England and Scotland. Absent from Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Corn Bunting numbers have decreased significantly over recent decades - a decline mirrored by many of our farmland and garden birds. Changes in agricultural practices, such as the removal of hedgerows and increased use of pesticides, have had detrimental effects, but The Wildlife Trusts are working closely with farmers and landowners to promote wildlife-friendly practices. We are working towards a 'Living Landscape': a network of habitats and wildlife corridors across town and country, which are good for both wildlife and people. You can support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.

Species information

Common name
Corn Bunting
Latin name
Emberiza calandra
Finches and Buntings
Length: 18cm Wingspan: 29cm Weight: 41-53g Average Lifespan: maximum of 7 years
Conservation status
Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Classified in the UK as a Red List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review and as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.