House Bunting finally colonised Tétouan

House Buntings (Emberiza sahari) colonised Tangier in 2006 or even before (Birding World 19: 263), but it has never been reported from Tétouan. The House Bunting at Tétouan was recorded thanks to Yousef El Ouahabi who had been observing them visiting his house to feed with his pigeons since a year or so. Recently, Yousef described his new visitors to us, we explained the history of the arrival of these birds in the north of Morocco and asked for photographs of the species.

The location where these birds have been discovered is near the Faculty of Sciences of Tétouan which is a bit far from the ancient 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! An incubating House Bunting photographed at the same place where the species was observed last year (near the Faculty of Science, see photo 2). 

Update 2 (30 May 2013):

As expected (see the last 2 paragraphs above before update 1), 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 know them and know that they are new here. The new evidence came from photographs (photo 3) 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 very tame and come very near humans in search for food. It was his son, Soufiane, who alerted us by sending the link of the photographs that his father shared on his facebook nearly 3 years ago.

House Bunting (Emberiza sahari) near the Faculty of Sciences, Tétouan
House Bunting (Emberiza sahari) near the Faculty of Sciences, Tétouan, June 2012. (screen capture from a video by: Yousef El Ouahabi)
Incubating House Bunting, Tétouan
An incubating House Bunting (note the brood patch), near the Faculty of Sciences, Tétouan, 29 March 2013 (Rachid El Khamlichi).
House Buntings (Emberiza sahari), Medina of Tétouan, October 2010 (Al-Hassan Bennouna).

Thanks to Yousef, and Bennouna family for these observations.