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.