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Painted Bunting

Passerina ciris ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: CARDINALIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Near Threatened

With their vivid fusion of blue, green, yellow, and red, male Painted Buntings seem to have flown straight out of a child’s coloring book. Females and immatures are a distinctive bright green with a pale eyering. These fairly common finches breed in the coastal Southeast and in the south-central U.S., where they often come to feeders. They are often caught and sold illegally as cage birds, particularly in Mexico and the Caribbean, a practice that puts pressure on their breeding populations.

Jane Kim Mural
Yard Map Birds Eye View

Songs

The Painted Bunting’s song is a series of short, musical phrases of thin, sweet, high-pitched notes lasting about 2 seconds. When establishing territorial boundaries in the spring, a male may sing 9–10 songs per minute from several perches within his territory. Neighboring males often sing back and forth at each other, a territorial behavior called countersinging.

Calls

Painted Buntings give soft plik calls.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

Painted Buntings eat seeds, particularly after the breeding season is over, starting in midsummer. They’re more likely to visit a bird feeder in a yard with low, dense vegetation.

Find This Bird

In migration and winter, search for Painted Buntings by targeting sources of seeds such as weedy fields or bird feeders. In the summer, cruise through secondary growth or edge habitats with dense understory and listen for the species’ metallic chip call or the sweet, rambling song of a male. Painted Buntings spend a lot of time hidden in dense habitat so patience might be necessary; however, the wait will be worth it when you finally spot this gem, surely one of North America’s finest songbirds.

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