| Emberiza, Yellowhammer, Common reed bunting, Corn bunting, Ortolan bunting|
The Emberizidae are a large family of seed-eating passerine birds with distinctively finch-like bills.
In Europe, most species are called buntings. In North America, most of the species in this family are known as (American) sparrows, but these birds are not closely related to the (Old World) sparrows, in the family Passeridae. The family also includes the North American birds known as juncos and towhees.
It was hypothesized that the family Emberizidae may have originated in South America and spread first into North America before crossing into eastern Asia and continuing to move west. This would explain the comparative paucity of emberizid species in Europe and Africa compared to the Americas. However, a DNA sequence-based study of passerines concluded emberizids spread from North to South America.
As with several other passerine families, the taxonomic treatment of this family's members is currently in a state of flux. Many genera in South and Central America are, in fact, more closely related to several different tanager clades, and at least one tanager genus (Chlorospingus) may belong here in the Emberizidae.
Emberizids are small birds, typically around 15 cm in length, with finch-like bills and nine primary feathers. The family ranges in size from the Sporophila seedeaters, the smaller species of which are about 10 cm and weigh 9–10 g, to Abert's towhee, at 24 cm (9.4 in), and the shorter-tailed, but chunkier canyon towhee, at 54 g (1.9 oz). They live in a variety of habitats, including woodland, brush, marsh, and grassland. The Old World species tend to have brown-streaked plumage, although some New World species can be very brightly coloured. Many species have distinctive head patterns.
Their diet consists mainly of seeds, but may be supplemented with insects, especially when feeding their young.
The habits of emberizids are similar to those of finches, with which they sometimes used to be grouped. Older sources may place some emberizids in the Fringillidae family, and the common names of some emberizids still refer to them as finches. With a few exceptions, emberizids build cup-shaped nests from grasses and other plant fibres, and are monogamous.
The relationships of these birds with other groups within the huge nine-primaried oscine assemblage are at this point largely unresolved. Indeed, relationships within the Emberizidae as defined here are uncertain with the possibility that each of the three main groups may not be all that closely related.
The results of a recent biochemical study suggest that Melophus and Latoucheornis may be related to various members of Emberiza and perhaps should be subsumed within that genus.Genus Melophus – crested bunting
Genus Latoucheornis – slaty bunting
Genus Emberiza – typical buntings (nearly 40 species)
Chlorospingus seems to belong here too. Genus Arremon (19 species)
Genus Arremonops (4 species)
Genus Melozone (7 species)
Genus Pipilo – (5 species)
Genus Aimophila (3 species)
Genus Rhynchospiza (2 species)
Genus Peucaea (8 species)
Genus Oriturus – striped sparrow
Genus Torreornis – Zapata sparrow
Genus Spizella (7 species)
Genus Pooecetes – vesper sparrow
Genus Chondestes – lark sparrow
Genus Amphispiza (3 species)
Genus Artemisiospiza (2 species)
Genus Calamospiza – lark bunting
Genus Passerculus (1–2 species) – Savannah sparrows, Ipswich sparrow, large-billed sparrows
Genus Ammodramus (9 species)
Genus Passerella – fox sparrows (probably 4 species)
Genus Xenospiza – Sierra Madre sparrow or Bailey's sparrow
Genus Melospiza (3 species)
Genus Zonotrichia (5 species)
Genus Junco – juncos (4 species)
The following are a group of apparently closely related neotropical sparrows known as the brush finches.Genus Atlapetes (around 28 species)
Genus Lysurus (2 species)
Genus Pselliophorus (2 species)
Genus Pezopetes – large-footed finch
The rest of the traditional Emberizidae are listed below. While they do not form a natural group, most appear to be closer to various tanager genera, and for the largest part they are often known collectively as tanager-finches.Genus Amaurospiza – blue seedeaters (4 species) – may belong with certain grosbeaks (Cyanocompsa) in the family Cardinalidae.
Genus Acanthidops – peg-billed finch
Genus Camarhynchus – tree-finches (5–6 species)
Genus Catamenia – atypical seedeaters (3 species)
Genus Certhidea – warbler-finches (2 species)
Genus Charitospiza – coal-crested finch
Genus Coereba – bananaquit
Genus Coryphaspiza – black-masked finch
Genus Coryphospingus (2 species)
Genus Diglossa – typical flowerpiercers (18 species)
Genus Diuca – diuca-finches (2 species)
Genus Dolospingus – white-naped seedeater
Genus Donacospiza – long-tailed reed-finch
Genus Emberizoides – grass-finches (3 species)
Genus Embernagra (2 species)
Genus Euneornis – orangequit
Genus Geospiza – ground finches (6 species)
Genus Gubernatrix – yellow cardinal
Genus Haplospiza (2 species)
Genus Idiopsar – short-tailed finch
Genus Incaspiza (5 species)
Genus Lophospingus (2 species)
Genus Loxigilla – Antillean bullfinches (4 species)
Genus Loxipasser – yellow-shouldered grassquit
Genus Melanodera (2 species)
Genus Melanospiza – St. Lucia black finch
Genus Melopyrrha – Cuban bullfinch
Genus Nesospiza – Tristan da Cunha finches (3 species)
Genus Oryzoborus – seed-finches (6 species)
Genus Paroaria – cardinal-tanagers (5 species)
Genus Phrygilus – sierra-finches (11 species)
Genus Piezorina – cinereous finch
Genus Pinaroloxias – Cocos Island finch
Genus Poospiza – warbling-finches (17 species)
Genus Rhodospingus – crimson-breasted finch
Genus Rowettia – Gough finch
Genus Saltatricula – many-coloured Chaco finch
Genus Sicalis – yellow-finches (12 species)
Genus Sporophila – typical seedeaters (some 55 species)
Genus Tiaris – typical grassquits (5 species)
Genus Volatinia – blue-black grassquit
Genus Xenospingus – slender-billed finch
Finally, the three genera known as longspurs and Arctic buntings are unrelated and have been moved to their own family Calcariidae.