Corn Bunting
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Corn Bunting

  • THAT'S ME
  • FACTS
  • OBSERVATIONS
  • MULTIMEDIA
  • ST. MARTINS
  • QUIZ

Dear Explorers,

It's me, the corn bunting - Austria's bird of the year 2024. Maybe you've seen me before. Or maybe not, because unfortunately I have already become extinct in large parts of Austria in recent decades. I am a songbird that feeds mainly on various plant seeds and small invertebrates. In Austria, Seewinkel is one of my last strongholds in terms of breeding, so the chances of spotting me on a safari are particularly high. I can often be found performing my song on a lookout. In the area, I like to use smaller trees, bushes and power lines for this.


So, enough talk now! The St. Martins outdoor team has put together a lot of interesting facts about me in a compact form. Have fun reading!


All the best, your corn bunting

 

Image credit: Steve Riall, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Header image credit: Zeynel Cebeci, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Image credit: Zeynel Cebeci, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Wingspan: 26-32 cm

  • Weight: approx. 35-67 g

  • Nest: on the ground in dense herbaceous vegetation or under low bushes

  • Eggs: usually 3-5 eggs

  • Breeding season: mid-April to early August

  • Age: 3 to 8 years

Image credit: Zeynel Cebeci, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The corn bunting is a sparrow-sized, predominantly grey-brown colored bird. Of all the buntings native to Austria, the corn bunting is the least conspicuously colored species. The typical bunting beak is relatively very strong and yellowish in color.

The breeding season is from the end of April to the beginning of August and they only breed once a year. Corn buntings usually have a monogamous seasonal marriage, but the males are very often polygynous - i.e. they have several partners in their territory and are not involved in building the nest or incubating the clutch and only to a small extent in rearing the young. The nest is usually built on the ground or very low in shrubs or bushes. It consists mainly of blades of grass and is lined with animal hair and soft plant parts. The clutch usually consists of 3-5 eggs. The incubation period is between 11 and 13 days. The young leave the nest around 12 days after hatching and are then fed by their parents for a further 2-4 weeks.

Corn buntings forage mainly on the ground and have a predominantly vegetarian diet of various seeds. However, a wide range of insects are also used as a food source. Invertebrates are particularly important when rearing young, and the nestlings are fed almost exclusively on insects and spiders.

The rather monotonous song of the corn bunting is performed exclusively by the males and consists of a short and frequently repeated, grating, rattling verse. The sound is often compared to the jingling of a bunch of keys. This song is usually performed from a perch with a good all-round view. At Seewinkel , corn buntings like to use low power lines, the tops of individual bushes or trees, but also hay bales, for example.

The corn bunting is distributed from the Canary Islands across North Africa and Europe northwards to southern Scandinavia and further to southwest Asia. Depending on the location of the breeding area, the corn bunting is both a resident bird and a short- to medium-distance migrant. In Central Europe, the species was once not uncommon as a breeding bird, but disappeared or became extinct in many areas during the second half of the 20th century. In Austria, the corn bunting is highly endangered and now only breeds regularly in small islands in the eastern Weinviertel, in the Marchfeld, on the Parndorfer Platte and in the Neusiedler See area. The Seewinkel and Hanság are among the last strongholds of the species in Austria.

The overall global population of the corn bunting is declining, but is not yet considered endangered. In north-western and central Europe, however, the species has become very rare as a breeding bird, mainly due to the large-scale intensification of agriculture and insect mortality. In Austria alone, the population of the corn bunting fell dramatically by 95% between 1998 and 2022. Accordingly, the species is currently listed as "critically endangered" in the Red List. The corn bunting is a top priority for bird conservation in Austria.

Image credit: Zeynel Cebeci, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In Seewinkel , the best observation conditions are from spring to summer, when the corn buntings are very conspicuous in the area due to their territorial song.
It is always worth taking a close look at individual bushes or power lines and keeping an eye out for a corn bunting, which likes to use such landscape elements as a singing platform. The species can often be observed from a distance with binoculars or a spotting scope.

 

Safari

You have a good chance of spotting a corn bunting, especially on a birdwatching safari in spring or early summer. In addition to the corn bunting, one of our expert St. Martins rangers will show you other special and unfortunately highly endangered bird species that use the Seewinkel as a breeding ground. After all, Seewinkel is one of the last breeding grounds in Austria, and not just for the corn bunting.

With a bit of luck, you may spot a corn bunting on its singing perch right next to the extensive grounds or on the pastures of St. Martins thermal baths & Lodge, where singing males are regularly observed. It is therefore worth keeping your eyes open in every direction during your walks and, above all, pricking up your ears, as the inconspicuous, gray-brown bird is usually only noticed when it starts singing.

Test your knowledge!

Discover a new species each month and, with a little luck, win a Seewinkel-Safari voucher for two.

Good luck with your participation and explorer greetings,
your nature experience team of the St. Martins Spa  &Lodge

Conditions of participation:
The current competition will run until February 29, 2024. The winner of a safari voucher for two will be chosen from all participants with the correct answer in camera. The winner will be notified via email . Cash redemption of the prize and legal recourse are excluded.

The song of the corn bunting is reminiscent of...*
The population of corn buntings in Austria fell by what percentage between 1998 and 2022?
Where is the Corn Bunting nest located?

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