Saturday, January 3, 2009

Grey-necked Bunting – The first record from Sri Lanka

During a bird survey session at Kalpitiya Peninsula, FOGSL research team recorded a Grey necked Bunting (Emberiza buchanani). This is the first record of the species in the island.

We were surveying coastal grassland at Nirmalapura, Daluwa area of Puttlum District on 16th December 2008. One of us (CDK) noticed an unknown species at around 0700 in the morning. Reddish beak and legs caught our attention. The bird was not shy and therefore we could observe it very closely for around 2 hours.

Based on the shape of its bill and other features, we decided that the bird could be a bunting (DS has previous experience on buntings). We photographed the bird by digiscoping. All the features were noted and later examined with the help of a field guide available to us (Grimmet 1998- Field guide to the birds of Indian Subcontinent).

The bird was observed again at mid day and evening. We could photograph it extensively at mid day. It was feeding busily on grass seeds all the time. During our observation period, bird didn’t accompany any other bird species in the area and remained solitary. Common Mynas, Spotted Doves, Richard’s Pipits, House sparrows, Rock Pigeons and Blue tailed Bee-eaters were frequently feeding on the grassland.

Later we sent few photographs to Dr. Girish Jathar, well-known ornithologist in India. He confirmed the identity of the bird by examining the photographs.

Buntings were recorded only once in Sri Lanka. Two bunting species namely Black headed bunting (Emberiza melanocephala) and Red headed Bunting (Emberiza bruniceps)were recorded at Udawalawe National Park in year 2005. Hence, this is the third record of a bunting species in Sri Lanka.

Reported by

C. D. Kaluthota, Dammithra Samarasinghe, Hasith de Silva and Dilshan de Silva


Steven said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I can assure you that I have saw this bird arround mihintale (during my observations near Kurundankulama tank around 6.30 - 7.00am) in 2007. Is there any bird around Sri Lanka wich looks like this bird and in that case my observation may be misidentifiation of the bird. I can help if you want to verify any thing regarding this observation. I,m a nature lover and I used to birdwatching for about 10 - 15 years.

K.S.M.Rajapaksha(Bsc,Applied Sciences)

Chinthaka said...


It is interesting to hear about your record of the species. I would like to have more information on your record. Specially about the date of the record, any other morphological data you recorded at the field, habitat type, behaviours, and photos if any. There are many other possibilities too. As I mentioned to you in my email, If you send me the above details, we can help you to ID the Species if there is any misidentification.

Munias and silverbills that present in Sri Lanka are the closest relatives of the buntings. Other than that only two species (actually two birds) were recorded earlier from the island. However, unlike Munias, many Bunting and rosefinch species (Which are another close relatives of the said species) are extremely difficult to identify in the field. Hence careful observation of the bird is essential.

Chinthaka Kaluthota

Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka

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