Last week we were in England and while there were able to enjoy a visiting female Reed Bunting ((Emberiza schoeniclus) at a friend’s feeder array. That’s its picture above.

Coming from Canada where there really are no “real” sparrows and where most so-called Sparrows are taxonomically Buntings, like the featured lady here, you could probably be forgiven if, catching only a quick glimpse, you thought that you had just seen an errant Song Sparrow in Europe (or something along those lines). Of course, your mind would do a double-take and you would shake your head and think again but just look at the picture carefully and you will see what I mean.

It’s an old hobby-horse of mine, but wouldn’t life be simpler if these mis-named North American sparrows were henceforth to be called buntings?  Undoubtedly too late now but it would be so much tidier were such to be possible. After all, look at the name of the Reed Bunting’s genus – Emberiza.  Just because the early settlers knew no better than to assume all small brown birds were sparrows, in much the same way as anything with a red breast became a Robin even if in reality it was/is a Thrush that is no reason to continue to be wrong in these more enlightened days.

None of which takes away at all from the fact that this is a rather handsome little lady … we waited, but never saw a convincing male (well, down at the reserve we did) with his finely marked black head.  Here is someone else’s image of one so you know what they look like:

Common Reed Bunting seen adjacent to RSPB Fen Drayton bird sanctuary, Cambridgeshire, UK. Early May 2018.

  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Camera: DSC-RX10M3
  • Taken: 30 April, 2018
  • Focal length: 146.76mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Shutter speed: 1/250s