Do yourself a favor this summer and become familiar with a living work of art: the Painted Bunting. With its vibrant colors and propensity for frequenting backyard bird feeders that cater to their love of white millet seeds (particularly in the summer months) the Painted Bunting may just indulge you in a sighting.
The Vivid Visuals of the Painted Bunting
One look at a male Painted Bunting and you may be inspired to break out your palette and easel. As is common with songbirds, the male wins all the awards in the looks department. Vivid blue, green, yellow, and red hues decorate the bird’s head, back, bottom, and belly respectively. That’s not to say female Painted Buntings aren’t beautiful in their own right. Both females and immatures are bright yellow-green overall with a pale eyering. The Painted Bunting has a stocky, finch-like body with a stubby, thick bill for eating seeds.
Where to Find Them
These birds are relatively common in the coastal southeast and south central part of the United States. Florida, Virginia, and Texas are hot spots for the Painted Bunting, especially in areas of dense brush and thick grass.
As a backyard birder, if you’re looking to lure them near, your best bet is to provide a water source for the birds and keep your yard grassy and full of shrubbery. Manicured lawns may look nice to your neighbors, but they Painted Buntings prefer a more natural aesthetic. You also need to be sure to keep your bird feeders full of the right bird seed for Painted Buntings.
Painted Bunting Eating Habits
Speaking of feeding the Passerina Ciris, Painted Buntings are particularly fond of seeds, specifically white millet seeds. Fill your bird feeders with white millet bird seed or a wild bird food seed mix that contains white proso millet seeds, nyjer thistle seeds, and even black oil sunflower seeds and you’ll have a better chance of seeing one of these beauties. Bear in mind that during breeding season, which begins in late April and lasts until early August, Painted Buntings will typically add insects to their diet to ramp up their protein intake.
Why Painted Buntings Are So Rare?
These birds are known for their great beauty, unique molt-migration patterns, and distinct high-pitched call. Check out the Painted Bunting's call in this YouTube audio clip below.
Unfortunately, they are also known for being a rare breed whose presence is in decline. This is due to habitat loss and the fact that Painted Buntings are often caught and sold illegally as cage birds in Mexico and the Caribbean. Additionally, the species is sadly prone to window collisions and cowbird parasitism, both of which contribute to the 33% decline that has been documented between 1966 and 2019.