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Painted Bunting

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Painted Bunting - Male

Painted Bunting - Male

Angie - Justabird

Common Name:

Painted Bunting, Rainbow Bunting

Scientific Name:

Passerina ciris

Appearance:

  • Bill: Thick and conical, lower mandible slightly thicker
  • Size: 5-6 inches long with 9-inch wingspan
  • Colors: Green, blue, red, yellow, gray
  • Markings: Birds are dimorphic. Males have brilliant plumage with a rich blue head, red eye ring, bright green back, red chest, red or orange abdomen and gray tail. Females are green overall, with brighter green on the back and an olive wash on the wings. Females’ throat and abdomen may be yellow-green.

Foods:

Seeds, insects

Habitat and Migration:

Painted buntings can be found along waterways and in thick riparian cover during the summer in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas, with more limited populations in eastern South Carolina and southeastern Georgia. These birds migrate seasonally, spending winters in Cuba, the Bahamas, Mexico and Central America.

See the complete painted bunting range map.

Vocalizations:

Though shy, painted buntings are very vocal throughout the year. Calls include high pitched warbling, chirps and chips. Males will sing from exposed perches during the breeding season as part of their territorial displays.

Behavior:

Male painted buntings are very aggressive and territorial, even killing intruding birds in extreme cases. Threat displays include pecking, flapping and grappling. At the same time, these are shy and reclusive birds that prefer thick cover and often forage on the ground under shrubs and trees.

Reproduction:

Painted buntings are generally monogamous. Female birds will incubate cup-shaped nests containing 3-5 eggs for 10-12 days. After the eggs hatch, both parents will feed the nestlings for 12-14 days, though the female does most of the feeding. Pairs of painted buntings can raise 2-3 broods per year.

Attracting Painted Buntings:

Because of their brilliant plumage, painted buntings are highly desirable backyard birds. They will visit seed feeders, particularly in the spring and fall and in areas that provide suitable low shrubs and other cover. Painted buntings will also visit bird baths, though running water features are best. To minimize aggression, birders should provide widely spaced feeders.

Similar Birds:

  • Lazuli Bunting (Passerina amoena)
  • Varied Bunting (Passerina versicolor)
  • Orange-Breasted Bunting (Passerina leclancherii)

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