Neotropical Migrants: Painted Buntings
The Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris) belongs to the Passerina genus of birds in the Cardinal family Cardinalidae. The painted bunting is found in thickets, woodland edges and brushy areas, along roadsides, in suburban areas, and gardens. The male was once a popular caged bird, but now its capture is illegal. Populations are declining on the East Coast where habitat is being lost to development. The breeding range includes Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Louisiana.
Painted buntings are one of the most beautiful birds in North America and appear to be in decline as their coastal habitats are being lost. Because of their beauty, these migratory birds also are captured for the pet trade.
- Jay Garcia completed a master’s project (Clemson, 2004) on the nesting behaviors of painted buntings on Spring Island and the Webb Wildlife Center, a refuge owned by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
- Clemson graduate student Jessica Gorzo worked on ways to help golf courses manage for painted buntings. She correlated bird community with habitat type to determine which habitats support the highest diversity of birds. Results indicated that courses that maintain marsh buffer vegetation have higher breeding bird diversity, including greater numbers of the painted bunting. Read Avian Communities and Landscape Characteristics of Golf Courses Within the Beaufort County Sea Island Complex
- Paul Sykes, an ornithologist with the USGS, also uses Spring Island as a regular study site for a long-term study looking at painted buntings along the east coast.