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Species Description

Painted Bunting

Passerina ciris

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Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Cardinalidae


The male has a blue head and red eye ring, throat, under parts, and rump. Its wing coverts are green while the wing, tail, and flight feathers are dark in color. The female is yellow-green, with dark wings and tail. Other things to look for: The combination of colors on the male Painted Bunting makes it unique in the birds found in the United States. The song of this species is a variable group of fast whistled phrases. 14 cm (5.5 in) in length.

Life Cycle

The breeding season begins in early May, peaks later that month until early June, and extends into late July. Breeding habitat includes areas with dense thickets or shrub growth. The nest is usually located in a tree or shrub 0.9-1.8 m (3-6 feet) above the ground. The nest is cup-shaped and constructed from grass, leaves, and other plant material, and lined with fine grasses and hair. The female lays 3-5 (usually 3-4) eggs that she incubates for 11-12 days. The young are altricial and fledge 8-9 days after hatching. Males feed this first batch of young alone if the female begins to nest again.

Natural History

Throughout the year, areas with dense understory and shrubs provide habitat for this species. The diet of this species includes mostly seeds and sometimes insects. The Painted Bunting forages by searching for food on the ground and in low vegetation. This species is a long distance migrant.


Painted Bunting Region Map The Painted Bunting is only found in the southern portions of the United States during the breeding season, and mostly in the Southeast, for it occurs in the coastal region from North Carolina to the Florida panhandle, and from Mississippi to Texas north to Arkansas. Wintering birds occur in southern peninsular Florida and rarely eastern coastal Louisiana. In Georgia, the Painted Bunting is usually found near the coast and lower Savannah River areas. The winter range for most of this species includes the Caribbean and central Mexico south to southern Panama.

Conservation Status

Infrequently, the Painted Bunting is a host of the Brown-headed Cowbird. Even rarer still, a Painted Bunting may raise a cowbird young instead of or in addition to its own. The Painted Bunting is a species of concern throughout its southeastern range.

Similar Species

The species most similar to the Painted Bunting is the Indigo Bunting. Although the males are strikingly different (the male Indigo Bunting being all blue), the females may be less easy to distinguish. The female Indigo Bunting is all brown compared to the overall yellow-green of the female Painted Bunting.