Painted Bunting

© George Payne
Passerina ciris
To one who has never seen a male Painted Bunting, the description of the bird must sound fantastically unreal head and sides of the neck, indigo blue; upper back, yellow to golden green; rump, underparts, and eye-ring, red. Strange as it may seem, these are the colors of this gaudy finch, which, moreover, is a commons summer bird through most of Louisiana. The upperparts of the female are plain green, shading into dull yellow on the underparts. The immature male resembles the adult female.
The species arrives in the first half of April and is locally abundant during the period of migration, when sometimes it occurs in great flocks alongside our rural roads. Most of the birds of these large aggregations disperse or pass on, but the species remains as one of the more common summer residents of the state. This bunting is mainly a bird of the edges of woodlands, particularly where there is an abundance of dense cover in the form of low thickets and brush. The three or four bluish white eggs, which have numerous brownish or chestnut markings, are laid in a cup-shaped nest in a bush or low tree. The song is a rather weak warble that lacks conciseness.
Fall migration begins in August and continues well into October. In the middle of this period the species is exceptionally common, particularly in the southern part of the state. Occasionally one or two individuals at a time are seen somewhere in southern Louisiana in winter. The 17 records that are on file cover the months of December, January, and February and include observations in Baton Rouge, Lottie, Thibodaux, Grand Isle, New Orleans, Gretna, and Venice. One was also seen on the Sabine Wildlife Management Area, in La Salle Parish, on November 26, 1971, by Kermit Cummings. --George H. Lowery, Jr., 1974, Louisiana Birds

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