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Townsend's Bunting

Townsend's Bunting

The definitive website on wildbirds & nature

Birds of America

By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.


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[Townsend's Bunting.]

[Emberiza townsendi.]


In form this species is compact and rather robust, like the common Sparrow of Europe, or the Black-throated Bunting of our country. The bill is short, strong, conical, compressed, acute; the upper mandible narrower, with its dorsal line a little convex, as is that of the lower, the edges of both inflected, and the gap-line declinate at the base. Nostrils roundish, basal. Feet of ordinary length and thickness, the tarsus with seven anterior scutella, and two lateral plates meeting behind so as to form an edge; lateral toes equal, the outer united as far as the second joint, hind-toe strong; claws arched, compressed, acute, with a lateral groove.

The wings are short, the first quill longest, the next scarcely shorter, the rest graduated, the second, third, and fourth very slightly cut out on the outer web towards the end, the secondaries rounded, the outer slightly emarginate. Tail of moderate length, and slightly emarginate. The plumage is soft and rather compact.

Bill brownish-black above, light blue beneath, with a longitudinal black line from the tip half way to the base. Iris light hazel. Feet and claws dusky brown. Head above deep bluish-grey, streaked with black; the cheeks, hind-neck, sides of the neck, fore part of the breast, and the sides of the same colour, becoming paler backwards. Back bluish-grey, each feather with a narrow dark brown central streak bordered with light brown, the margins grey; the rump grey, without streaks. Quills and tail wood-brown, slightly edged with paler, wing-coverts light brown, the central parts of the feathers darker. There is a narrow white line over the eye, and the minute feathers margining the eyelids are of the same colour. The throat and fore-neck are white. A line of short brownish-black streaks passes on either side from the base of the lower mandible, separating a narrow portion of the white space, and margining the lower part of it, although there the streaks are scattered; the middle part of the breast and abdomen are also greyish-white.

Length 5 3/4 inches, extent of wings 9; bill along the ridge 7/12; tarsus 10/12.

TOWNSEND'S BUNTING, Emberiza Townsendii, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. ii. p. 183; vol. v. p. 90.

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