The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Bunting
BUNTING, a name given to several birds of the order passeres, tribe conirostres, family fringillidæ, and sub-family emberizinæ. It is characterized by an acute conical bill, with a straight or nearly straight culmen, and with the lateral margins sinuated; the interior of the upper mandible with a palatic knob; the wings moderate and somewhat pointed; tarsi about as long as the middle toe, and scaled; hind toe robust and longer than the inner; claws slender and generally curved.
Among the genera is euspiza (Pr. Bonap.), of which a well known species is the black-throated bunting (E. Americana, Gmel.), with the fore part of the head greenish olive, hind head, neck, and cheeks dark ash-gray; streak over eye and lower mandible, lower neck, and middle of the breast yellow; chin white, throat black, sides gray, abdomen white, and lesser wing coverts bright chestnut; length 6½ inches; female without the black on the throat. This bird arrives in the New England states from the south about the middle of May, and returns early in September, spending the winter beyond the limits of the United States; it consumes caterpillars, insects, and immense numbers of cankerworms early in the summer; it also eats seeds of various grasses. The nest is made on the ground, and the eggs are five, white, speckled with black. Birds of this genus are found also in Asia, Europe, and South America; they frequent bushes and open cultivated fields, seeking their food on the ground; there are about 12 species described. The genus emberiza (Linn.), of which familiar species are E. hortulana and E. miliaria, contains about 30 species, scattered over the old and new world, especially the former; on the approach of winter they collect in flocks, in which they remain until spring; their habits are the same as those of the preceding genus. (See Ortolan.)
The genus plectrophanes (Meyer) contains four species, among which are the snow bunting (P. nivalis, Linn.), and the Lapland lark bunting (P. Lapponicus, Linn.), remarkable for their long hind toe and very long and nearly straight claw. In winter they live in temperate Europe and North America, going to the far north in spring to breed; they associate in flocks in open mountainous districts, running quickly on the ground in search of seeds, alpine fruits, and insects; the nest is made in fissures of rocks or on grassy hillocks. Other fringillidæ, as many species of sparrows and finches, are in various localities called buntings.