Ortolan, Or Ortulan, a bunting of the genus emberiza (Linn.). The bill is small, acute, and conical, and the palate is furnished with a prominent bony knob; the wings are moderate, the tail lengthened and somewhat forked, with feathers rather lanceolate; tarsi as long as the middle toe. This well known bird (E. liortulana, Linn.) is about 6¼ in. long; the head and neck are greenish gray with dusky spots; the throat, space around eye, and band from bill downward, yellow; upper parts reddish bay, each feather black in the middle; below bay red, tipped with gray; tail blackish; the female is smaller, with brown spots on the breast and fainter colors. Rare in England, it is very abundant in southern Europe, where great numbers are caught in snares in early autumn, and fattened for the table in constantly lighted rooms on oats, millet, and spiced bread, on which the flesh becomes very fat and of a high and delicious flavor; they are considered perfect when they attain the weight of three ounces. Ortolans are numerous in Japan, and are very abundant on the island of Cyprus where they are pickled in casks with spice and vinegar, each cask containing 300 or 400 birds; in some years the number of casks exported has amounted to 400. In ancient Rome epicures paid enormous prices for these delicacies, and they are still greatly relished; many are annually prepared for the tables of the rich.
It is a handsome bird, and has a flute-like warble, but is chiefly prized for the table.
Ortolan (Emberiza hortulana).