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House Bunting finally colonised Tétouan, northern Morocco

The House Bunting (Emberiza sahari) colonised Tangier in mid-2000. However, despite searching the species has never been recorded at Tétouan or at any other locality in northernmost Morocco outside of Tangier.

The House Bunting at Tétouan was recorded thanks to Yousef El Ouahabi who had been observing them visiting his house to feed with the pigeons since a year or so. Recently, after describing his new visitors to us, he promised to send us the photographs to identify the birds (photo below).

House Bunting (Emberiza sahari) near the Faculty of Sciences, Tétouan, June 2012 (Yousef El Ouahabi).

The location where these birds have been discovered is near the Faculty of Sciences of Tétouan which is a bit far from the old town (the Medina). Since these birds nearly always search for “free food” especially in this part of the country, they are most likely present also in some hidden spots in the Medina of Tétouan. More photographs to follow if we found them there.

Update 1 (29 March 2013):

Breeding evidence obtained! An incubating House Bunting photographed at the same place near the Faculty of Science where the species was observed last year.

An incubating House Bunting (note the brood patch), near the Faculty of Sciences, Tétouan, 29 March 2013 (R. El Khamlichi).

Update 2 (30 May 2013):

As expected above, the House Buntings were already breeding at the Medina of Tétouan since a few years, but we didn’t know about them. The locals of course knew them and also know that they are new here. The new evidence came from photographs taken in the Medina of Tetouan and uploaded to Facebook by Al-Hassan Bebnouna on 14 and 27 October 2010. According to the observation of Al-Hassan, these birds are tame and come very near humans in search for food. It was his son, Soufiane, who sent us the link to the photographs that his father took nearly 3 years ago (photo bellow).

Thanks to Yousef, and Bennouna family for these observations.

House Buntings (Emberiza sahari), Medina of Tétouan, October 2010 (Al-Hassan Bennouna)

Rachid El Khamlichi & Mohamed Amezian

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