bunting, common name for small, plump birds of the family Fringillidae ( finch family). Among the American buntings are the indigo bunting, in which the summer plumage of the male reflects sunlight as a rich, metallic blue; the painted bunting, or nonpareil ( Passerina ciris ), with showy red, blue, and green plumage; the hardy snow bunting ( Plectrophenax nivalis ), whose winter plumage is white marked with light brown on the head and sides; and the lazuli bunting of the West, turquoise above with a chestnut breast and white wing bars. European buntings include the corn, snow, and cirl buntings, the yellowhammer, and the ortolan ( Emberiza hortulana ), which is caught and fattened as a table delicacy. Buntings are also called sparrows in the United States. They are classified in the phylum Chordata , subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Passeriformes, family Fringillidae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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