Lapland Bunting

Calcarius lapponicus (Linnaeus, 1758) LA LAPBU 18470
Family: Passeriformes > Calcariidae

Lapland Bunting, Chris Knights

The chestnut-naped Lapland Bunting is a winter visitor to saltmarshes and coastal fields, where its rolling call often gives it away.

Lapland Buntings begin arriving in Britain & Ireland from their Arctic breeding grounds in late August and early September, with the numbers involved fluctuating between years but typically in the low hundreds. The north-east and east coasts of the UK are favoured, although small numbers of Lapland Buntings can be seen in the south and west too, and across the Irish Sea.

Some of the Lapland Buntings seen in the UK will be birds on passage, heading for wintering grounds in France. Birds begin the journey back to their breeding grounds in March.

Select a topic for more facts and statistics about the Lapland Bunting

  • Breeding
  • Winter


Lapland Bunting identification is sometimes difficult. The following article may help when identifying Lapland Bunting.

related video

Identifying winter buntings

Reed Bunting. Photograph by Liz Cutting

If you find brown, streaky buntings hard to identify, this workshop is for you. Using video footage, still photographs and sound recordings we highlight the differences between four species of bunting that can be found in coastal areas in winter: Reed, Little, Snow and Lapland Buntings.


Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Lapland Bunting, provided by xeno-canto contributors.

Alarm call


Develop your bird ID skills with our training courses

Our interactive online courses are a great way to develop your bird identification skills, whether you're new to the hobby or a competent birder looking to hone your abilities.

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Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.



Lapland Buntings are very rare breeders of the Scottish Highlands. Breeding was confirmed in the late 1970s though more recently only single birds have been seen in suitable habitat. They are more likely to be seen from autumn onwards when arrivals from Fennoscandia and Greenland arrive to spend the winter. Mostly they are recorded from the coast, particularly along the North Sea coast from the Firth of Forth southward to Kent. There are scattered records from the south coast of England from Kent to Cornwall, on west coasts north to Lancashire, and around the Irish coast. Lapland Buntings are generally scarce inland.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2


The distribution recorded during Bird Atlas 2007–11 represented a 151% increase in range in Britain since the 1981–84 Winter Atlas, with gains most noticeable on western and southern coasts. In Ireland the number of occupied squares increased from one to 15.


Lapland Bunting is a scarce winter visitor and autumn passage migrant, mostly in September to November.

Weekly occurence of Lapland Bunting from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.

Foreign locations of birds ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland

Foreign locations of Lapland Bunting ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland
Encountered in: Winter (Nov-Feb); Spring (Mar-Apr); Summer (May-Jul); Autumn (Aug-Oct)


Lifecycle and body size information about Lapland Bunting, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.



For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Welsh: Bras y Gogledd
Catalan: repicatalons de Lapònia
Czech: ostružka severní
Danish: Lapværling
Dutch: IJsgors
Estonian: lapi tsiitsitaja e. keltsalind
Finnish: lapinsirkku
French: Plectrophane lapon
German: Spornammer
Hungarian: sarkantyús sármány
Icelandic: Sportittlingur
Irish: Gealóg Laplannach
Italian: Zigolo della Lapponia
Latvian: Lapzemes sterste
Lithuanian: laplandine pentinuotoji starta
Norwegian: Lappspurv
Polish: poswierka (zwyczajna)
Portuguese: escrevedeira-da-lapónia
Slovak: ostrohárka severská
Slovenian: ostroglež
Spanish: Escribano lapón
Swedish: lappsparv

Links to more information from

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