The Perils of the Painted Bunting

The male Painted Bunting is native to North America and is considered to be one of the most beautiful small birds in the world.  They are found throughout the South and Southwest U.S., Mexico, Central America, Cuba and Florida.

Unfortunately, these small birds have shown a significant population decline across its range during the past 35 yrs. and are now listed as “Near Threatened” by the INCN and are protected by the U.S. Migratory Bird Act.

The exact causes for the Painted Bunting’s decline are not known, but they are believed to be due to habitat loss, cowbird parasitism, and trapping for the pet trade.

Copyright:Denise Russell 2013

Problems in caged bird trade:

The female Painted Bunting is the only true green bird native to the United States and can be found in forests, as well as open meadows.

Painted Buntings eat seeds for most of the year, switching to mostly insects in the breeding season.  They are shy, fast, and hard to observe, but will visit a backyard feeder for millet.

The male will sing up to 10 songs a minute with neighboring males “countersinging” back and forth marking their territory.   (Click this link to see the beautiful male Painted Bunting in song:

Immature Male Painted Bunting (1 of 1)-002









Volunteers are always needed to monitor the long-term status of wintering populations of Painted Buntings.

Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count has helped to follow changes in the numbers and distribution of the Painted Bunting.

To learn more about
the CBC and how you can participate, visit

All photos by Denise Russell, Copyright 2013; Not to be reproduced without permission; excluding educational purposes.


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