Large, rusty-brown bunting. Long tail and medium-sized gray bill. Adult male: Distinctive chestnut face and throat with a white cheek patch that is entirely bordered by black lores. Black lateral crown stripes divided by a white median crown stripe. Nape and back are warm buffy-brown upperparts with dark streaks on back, rusty-brown rump. Wing coverts are black with broad russet-brown edges. White tips to greater coverts form a single wing bar. Narrow white area separates the chestnut throat from the rusty-buff breast and flanks. Belly and undertail are white. In winter, males show a duller face pattern and the crown stripes are grayish. Adult female: Lacks the obvious white cheek patch and is much less colorful than male. Head marked by brownish lateral crown stripes, buffy supercilium and lores. A thin black post-ocular stripe and a narrow black moustachial stripe that flares out as it reaches the neck form a broken border around white and pale brown auriculars. Nape and back are gray with near-black streaking on back, rump rusty-brown, margins to wing coverts are paler. Throat is white with fine black streaking. Buffy-brown on breast and flanks is much less extensive and more streaky looking, fine black streaking on upper breast. Immature: Looks like a drab female, with reddish-brown crown with fine black streaks, mostly dusky gray-brown cheek with a small white spot at the rear of the auriculars, white malar and poorly-defined black submalar border a white throat. Underparts mostly white with short black streaks and a buffy wash on the breast and longer buffy-brown streaking on the flanks. Hatch-year birds similar to smaller Rustic and Little buntings; note the lack of strong eye ring and crest.
Length: 17 (cm) Wingspan: 28 (cm)
Found in open scrubby areas, cultivated fields, or open woodlands, especially pine forests.
Hybridizes with Yellowhammer, a Eurasian bunting unrecorded in North America.
Feeds on seeds and insects.
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