Longspurs/Snow Buntings (Family Emberizidae)
The Emberizidae are a large family of passerine birds. 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, the Family Passeridae. The family
also includes the North American birds known as juncos and towhees. As
with several other passerine families the taxonomic treatment of this fam-
ily's members is currently in a state of flux.
The Emberizidae family probably originated in South America and spread
first into North America before crossing into eastern Asia and continuing
to move west.
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 grams, to the Abert's towhee, at 24 cm (9.5 in), and the
shorter-tailed, but heavier Canyon towhee, at 54 grams (1.9 oz). They
live in a variety of habitats, including woodland, brush, marsh, and grass-
land. 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.
Crooked Run Valley