Promoting Nancy’s photography and educating the public about nature, photography, and God

Why You Haven’t Seen Any Painted Buntings

Imagine being a small bird (buntings, being medium-sized finches, are about five inches long) and sticking out like a sore thumb as the male does in our pictures Male Painted Bunting and Painted Bunting Pair with predators all about; you might be a little self-conscious. Painted Buntings tend to be secretive and skittish and can be found in thickets, woodland edges, shrubbery, and brushy areas. They won’t venture too far into the open to get their food. From what I’ve seen, females are less reclusive than males.

If you are in the Painted Bunting’s range (the Carolinas south through Florida for the eastern population) and provide the right habitat and food, you can have your own Painted Buntings. Our Painted Buntings breed from about Jacksonville, Florida, north through the Carolinas, but from October to mid-April, they winter in southern Florida (as well as Cuba and the Bahamas).

Nancy has always been a gardener and has planted a variety of plants to attract hummingbirds and butterflies, so we have plenty of cover for them. When she made it her mission to attract the buntings, she bought them their own feeder; it was a tube feeder (she likes the ones from Stokes (no longer available) or Droll Yankees).

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We don’t get anything from either of these companies for our comments. Nor have we done exhaustive research into all available bird feeder options. We are just giving you our experience and providing these links for your convenience.   Comments on your experiences relating to this topic are certainly welcome.

Nancy placed the feeder in a small Jatropha tree right next to the flower bushes, not out in the open. It has a squirrel cage, and the wire spacing on the cage was such that even the larger birds couldn’t get in. Buntings like tiny seeds – sunflower seeds are too large. Millet may be their favorite but isn’t strictly necessary. Nancy uses a songbird mix with several small seeds (including millet). Within two weeks of putting up the feeder, she had two males and seven females. Of course, trying to get a good picture is another storyblog.

How To Attract Painted Buntings To Your Yard

  1. Shelter

    Provide thick shelter. Remember, buntings are reclusive. The more flamboyant males are even more withdrawn.

  2. Food

    Feed them (as described above). If your neighbor becomes jealous and starts to compete for your Painted Buntings, try adding a birdbath. I’ve been told this could give you the edge you need.

  3. Prayer

    Pray. Also, keep in mind that buntings are most active (feeding) in the early morning and late afternoon. Good luck.

If you live in South Florida, you now have about two months to get your yard ready for these winter residents. You’d better get busy.

[For more information about how their flamboyance affects Painted Bunting behavior, go to Notes About Bird Flamboyance And Behavior.]


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