RSPB The cirl bunting is a charming relative of the yellowhammer that is at the limit of its European range in the UK. In spring, males have a striking black chin, eye stripe and crown and yellow stripes on head and yellow underparts. Female and juveniles look similar to yellowhammers, but have bolder head markings and streaked grey/brown rumps. It is a Schedule 1 species.
Cirl buntings are confined to south-west England. They are best looked for in fields and hedges of south Devon, near to the coast.
How to watch cirl buntings
Cirl buntings, as well as being rare, can be difficult to see and are very sensitive to disturbance, particularly during the breeding season.
As a result, they've been given special protection by the Wildlife and Countryside Act, which makes it an offence to intentionally, or recklessly disturb them at or near the nest. Below are some suggestions that will enable you to enjoy watching cirl buntings without distressing them.
Devon Birds: Search the Devon Birds website for recent sightings of Cirl Buntings in Devon.
Wikipedia: The cirl bunting, Emberiza cirlus, is a passerine bird in the bunting family Emberizidae, a group now separated by most modern authors from the finches, Fringillidae.
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.
Changes in agricultural practice have affected this species very adversely at the northern fringes of its range, and in England, where it once occurred over much of the south of the country, it is now restricted to south Devon. The cirl bunting is the mascot on the signs for the village of Stokeinteignhead in Devon.
eBird: Uncommon to fairly common but local in warmer regions. Favors sunny heathland, woodland edge, farmland with hedges. Male sings from prominent perch atop bush, on phone wires, etc. Male distinctive, with striking head and breast pattern, especially blackish throat. Female drab and streaky, told from Yellowhammer by finer dark streaking, more boldly striped head, and grayish rump (not bright rusty). White outer tail feathers often show in flight.