REED BUNTING (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Bruant des roseaux

 

As the name implies this is a bird of marshlands and reed beds, so it is normally found in Switzerland below 700m where reeds survive on the margins of lakes and rivers and occasionally in rank grass and shrublands, but always marshy areas. For many years such prime habitat has been regarded as "wasteland" by most countries of the world and only good for draining and reclamation, so the area of available habitat for birds like this has shrunk enormously. No more so than here in Switzerland where flat land is at a premium for agriculture and infrastructure. So Reed Buntings are found only in rather special places where marshes still survive.

The female Reed Bunting is a rather drab streaky brown bird, but the male is quite attractive, his black head and throat over the top of his white collar is very visible at a distance, especially since he often chooses to let forth his song from an exposed perch.

The song of the Reed Bunting is quite catchy and carries a long way. Like all Buntings it varies, but less so than others you will find on this site (i.e. Yellowhammer or Cirl Bunting ).The general pattern to look for is 2-4 rather bright, squeaky notes followed by a short trill, like this:

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I edited a section out of the middle of that, but it was all the same bird. The pattern is easily seen on the spectrogram:

I have not studied it carefully but different birds seem to have their own way of interpreting the pattern which they then seem to stick with, here is another that is both different but the same and so identifiable:

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(That was a Great Reed Warbler clammering away in the background) once again the pattern is unmistakable:

I have one recording of the call, a rather plaintive "tsui" call descending rapidly in pitch from about 8Khz to 4Khz in the space of about a third of a second:

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Cramp and Perrins say this call can be used both for contact between adults and as an alarm call.

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