Bird of the Week, May 11, 2012
Painted Bunting

Painted Bunting by Owen Deutsch


The adult male Painted Bunting is one of the most colorful of all U.S.-breeding birds, with a deep blue head, red underparts and rump, and lime-green back.  In Louisiana it is also called nonpareil,  French for “without equal“ - a fitting term for this gorgeous bird.  The female is a cryptic yellowish-green; first-year males also sport this more subtle plumage.


Its diet consists mostly of seeds and insects, gleaned as the birds forage on the ground or in low brush. Males defend territory by singing from a high perch, often hidden among the uppermost foliage of a tree. Despite their brilliant colors, they can be hard to spot among the leaves!


Breeding Bird Survey data from 1966-2000 show an annual decline of 2.7% across its North American range. Loss and degradation of breeding and migrant stopover habitat are probably the biggest factors. It is a popular cage bird in some countries, and is heavily trapped for that purpose on its wintering grounds, particularly in Mexico, in some places causing its disappearance. The Painted Bunting is also vulnerable to cowbird parasitism.

Photo by Dušan Brinkhuizen; Range Map, NatureServe