The Reed Bunting Bird (male) has a black throat outlined by white submoustachial stripes, and a black head with a complete white collar. The solid blacks of Reed Bunting Bird are acquired by losing the paler feather tips through wear; in fresh plumage in autumn the head is browner and the throat is scaled white. The female has brown upperparts streaked and patterned with black, while the underparts are buffish-white streaked black, densest on the breast, with a dark malar stripe highlighted by a pale submoustachial stripe. The head has dull brown cheeks, and a pale supercilium and eye-ring. Both sexes have bold white outer tail feathers at all ages.
Reed Bunting Bird is a common resident in our region, with numbers in winter augmented by migrants from further north and east. It favours damp areas with scrub, bushes and tall herbage, typically occurring in reedbeds, marshes, lake margins, bogs, marshy tundra, wet meadows and saltmarshes, as well as in drier non-marshy areas and not infrequently in crops such as barley and rape. Outside the breeding season it ranges more generally, moving onto farmland and grassland and occasionally appearing in gardens.
The commonly heard call of Reed Bunting Bird is a downward-inflected, rather penetrating "tseeou" or "zseeo", given as a contact call and also used as an anxiety call. It also has a nasal rasping "djuh", often given by autumn migrants, and a "tzi'tzi", given on the breeding grounds and similar to the Meadow Pipit alarm note. Two variants of song are used by the male, with considerable individual variation. Unpaired males sing a faster, bright and chirpy series of simple rather metallic notes, with 10-12 notes in a sequence lasting 1.5-2 seconds, such as "tjew, tjew, tjew tsitsi'zeuw chichi'zree'e'e" or "dze tchew'tchew dze'chichi zweee". Once paired, they sing a slower, halting and barely musical version, with longer pauses (0.5-1 second) between notes, such as "dzi... dziwi'... tzhur'r'r... tzhur'r'r... zeuup" or "tju... tju... dzing... dzing... ji'ji'ji zwee".