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Painted Bunting

Passerina ciris

Length: 5.5 inches Wingspan: 8.5 inches Seasonality: Very rare visitor
ID Keys: Male unmistakable, with red underparts, blue head, and lime-green patch on back.

Painted Bunting - Passerina cirisPerhaps the most colorful of all North American songbirds, the Painted Bunting is normally a bird of the southeastern U.S., and only occasionally strays north of its normal range.  The "Birds of South Dakota" (SDOU -- 2002) lists only one sighting of the species in the state.  They are typically birds of brushy undergrowth, and can sometimes be difficult to observe.  Males of the species are known for their intense physical fights over territory and mating rights, fights which sometimes even end in the death of one of the combatants. 

Habitat: Prefers semi-open country with thick ground cover, such as thickets, brushy fields, hedgerows, woodland clearings and edges, and forest undergrowth.  

Diet: Feeds primarily on seeds and insects.

Behavior: Primarily forages on the ground, although they will also forage low in bushes or trees.  Males will sing from higher perches, although they are often obscured by foliage when doing so.

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota

Song: Sweet warbling

Migration: In the United States, normally only found in the southeastern U.S. through Texas in the summer..  Winters in southern Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America.

Interactive eBird map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Painted Bunting sightings

Similar Species: Distinctive plumage on males, unlikely to confuse with other species.  Similar in structure to Varied bunting, Indigo Bunting

Bird Feeders: Will attend feeders for sunflower and other seeds.  Will also make use of bird baths.

Conservation Status: Generally stable through most of its range.

Further Information: 1) Wikipedia - Painted Bunting

2) WhatBird - Painted Bunting

3) Audubon Guide - Painted Bunting

Image Information: Colored pencil drawing by Terry Sohl - January 2012


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Painted Bunting - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Accidental in the state.  The SDOU's "Birds of South Dakota (2001) lists only one sighting in the state, a bird in Lawrence County in 1996.

Additional Painted Bunting Images
 Painted Bunting - Drawing by Terry Sohl