Painted Buntings

Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris) taking a bath

Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris) taking a bath ~ photo by Jeff Parker, copyright, 2012

We are blessed to have Painted Buntings in abundance each summer here at Red Belly Ranch. But, for such a brightly colored bird, they can be frustratingly hard to spot! Often I can hear them singing their little hearts out but cannot seem to find them when in the more forested areas. Many people who have lived in Painted Bunting country their whole lives have never seen one.

Luckily for me they really love to bathe when it’s hot. This brings them out to water features or to play in the sprinkler making them much easier to observe. They also have a fondness for white millet which I have exploited with a tube feeder at special set-ups.

Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris) playing in the sprinkler

Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris) playing in the sprinkler; copyright Jeff Parker, 2013

While locally common in places such as Red Belly Ranch (located in central Texas) or parts of south-Texas, the Painted Bunting has seen a population decrease of 55% in the past thirty years. In fact, IUCN now gives them a Conservation Status of “Near Threatened.” That makes it all the more special to see a group — or “palette” — of buntings.

Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris) female

Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris) female; copyright, Jeff Parker, 2013

Totally overshadowed by her mate, the female painted bunting is an attractive little bird herself. Dressed in her green plumage, she is solely responsible for raising the young. In fact, the males head on back south by August, leaving the females and juveniles in the breeding territory for another 4-6 weeks.

WANT TO PHOTOGRAPH PAINTED BUNTINGS? Join me for my one-day Painted Bunting Photography Workshop 2017.

Male Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris)

Male Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris); copyright, Jeff Parker, 2013