- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Cardinalidae
Adult male Varied Buntings are a stunning mosaic of rich plum, crimson, cherry red, and lavender-violet. In the shadows of their favored habitats—desert thorn forest, stream thickets, scrubby woodlands, and overgrown clearings—the colors of the plumage vanish, and the birds look blackish. Females and immatures are brownish. This gorgeous songbird avoids populated areas and doesn’t tend to visit feeders, instead foraging low in dense vegetation, twitching its tail and wings to flush insects. Varied Buntings are on the Yellow Watch List because of their restricted range.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Varied Buntings are a mostly Mexican species whose breeding range barely reaches across the border into Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Listen for singing males beginning in about May. They are quite localized, so check with local birders or eBird to find places to search for them. Walk through scrubby stream corridors, listening for singing males and watching for movement low in the brush. As with many desert species, early morning and late afternoon are the best times to look.
- Azulillo morado (Spanish)
- Passerin varié (French)
- Cool Facts
- Several bunting species, including Indigo, Lazuli, and Varied, sing a jumbled series of short notes. The Varied Bunting’s songs include a much more variable assortment of notes, with less repetition, than Indigo or Lazuli.
- Buntings (and many other songbirds) learn their songs after they hatch. Varied Buntings often share similar syllables with other nearby individuals, making up what is known as a “song neighborhood.”
- The eggs of Varied Buntings may be either blue or green. Although many species of shorebird or waterfowl show variety in their egg color, it is rare for songbirds to have eggs of two different colors in the same population.
- The Varied Bunting usually begins nesting in late May or early June, but some delay singing and nest-building until the start of summer rains, in July or August.