Nature Champions: Corn Bunting

(c) Andy Hay RSPB

This lowland bunting was once one of the most commonly seen farmland birds, indeed it was historically known as the ‘common bunting’. It is a stout, dumpy brown bird that sings a jangling song from exposed perches. Males often flutter from these song posts with legs characteristically ‘dangling’. In Eastern Scotland there has been an 83% decline in singing males between 1989 and 2007. On the Western Isles the decline is approximately 89% between 1995 and 2018. These two areas hold the only remaining Scottish populations (c.900 singing males) Corn buntings are now on the Red List of Birds of Conservation Concern. To help halt this decline, RSPB Scotland has been working in partnership with NatureScot, farmers and landowners, their agents and suppliers and local Environment Trusts. A key aim is to highlight the plight of the corn bunting to farmers and advise on the best package of options to benefit the species. 

Action Needed

  • Highly targeted conservation measures backed by expert advice for farmers
  • Encourage and support careful land management
  • Continued support for the Scottish Rural Development Programme and corn bunting recovery projects


  • Loss of safe nesting habitat during harvesting (corn buntings nest on the ground in growing crops late in the summer)
  • Loss of winter seed food (e.g. through ploughing of winter cereal stubbles)
  • Loss of insect summer chick food (e.g. through removal of rough grassy areas) 

MSP Nature Champion

Maggie Chapman

Member for: North East Scotland

Region: North East Scotland

Party: Scottish Green Party

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