Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla


Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 3,010,000-5,540,000 pairs, which equates to 6,030,000-11,100,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c.20% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 30,150,000-55,500,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats. The European population trend is unknown (BirdLife International 2015).


This species breeds in the northern taiga and tundra zone. It prefers moist, shrubby terrain and forests with dwarf birch and willow (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997, Copete 2016). The species feeds both on seeds and a variety of small invertebrate prey. Outside the breeding season it feeds predominantly on seeds (Copete 2016). The breeding season of this northern, migratory species is relatively late and starts in June. Some pairs are still nesting in August. The nest is built by the female, on the ground hidden under grassy vegetation. The clutch, usually four to six eggs are incubated by both sexes and hatch after 11–12 days. The chicks are raised by both parents and are fully fledged after 14–17 days. The species is migratory, wintering mainly from the north-eastern Indian Subcontinent east to south-east China and south to northern Indochina (Copete 2016).


Habitat shifting and alteration as a consequence of climate change may be a future pressure for this species.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
There are currently no known conservation measures for this species within its European range.

Conservation Actions Proposed
No conservation measures are currently needed for this species within its European range.


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Ashpole, J, Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Emberiza pusilla. Downloaded from on 01/12/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 01/12/2022.