Cape Buntings inhabit dry scrub, heathland, grasslands and woodland in rocky terrain, often in hilly and mountainous areas or along dry watercourses. They’re also familiar in the parks and gardens of villages within their distribution range, becoming quite tame around humans and even entering homes in search of food. They forage on the ground, their diet including seeds, insects, berries, and flower buds.
Cape Buntings occur singly, in pairs or in small family groups, with no records of larger aggregations. Pairs are monogamous and build their cup-shaped nests close to the ground in a thick shrub or bush. They breed throughout the year, with a distinct peak in nesting behaviour during the spring months. The clutch of 2-5 eggs are incubated for a period of two weeks, with the chicks leaving the nest even before they are 2 weeks old. Adults weigh around 20g and grow to a length of about 16cm.
In South Africa, Cape Buntings are found in every province, though they are much more numerous in the central and western parts of the country. They also occur widely in Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Malawi, and marginally into Tanzania, Mozambique, Angola, Zambia, Swaziland and Botswana. It is considered of least concern by the IUCN.