The Cirl Bunting is like a small Yellowhammer, 15-16.5 cm in length , with a wing-span of 22-22.5 cm) with a thick seed-eater's bill. The male has a bright yellow head, with a black crown, eyestripe and throat, and a greenish breast band across its otherwise yellow underparts, and a heavily streaked brown back. The female is much more like the Yellowhammer, but has a streaked grey-brown rump and chestnut shoulders.

Habitat and Distribution

It breeds across southern Europe, on the Mediterranean islands and in north Africa. It is a resident of these warmer areas, and does not migrate in winter. It is common in all sorts of open areas with some scrub or trees, but has a preference for sunny slopes.


In summer their natural food consists of invertebrates such as grasshoppers and crickets to feed their chicks. In winter they feed on small seeds. They tend to feed in flocks during the winter, also taking in grain and hay.


They nest on the ground, within dense cover provided by thick hedgerows and scrub. The ideal scrub includes blackthorn, hawthorn, bramble and gorse. The breeding season runs from April until mid-September, potentially having 3 broods in total. 2-5 eggs are laid, which show the hair-like markings characteristic of those of buntings.

Calls and Songs

Their song is a monotonous rattling trill, like that of the Arctic Warbler or the terminal rattle of Lesser Whitethroat.