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Overview

Brief Summary

The Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris) is a small, brightly colored songbird that breeds in the southeastern and southcentral United States and winters in the Florida Keys, the Caribbean, Mexico, and portions of Central America. The breeding range includes two disjunct populations, separated by a 550 km gap. The interior breeding population is found mainly from northeastern Mexico and Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana east along the Gulf Coast to southern Alabama and locally in western Florida. The Atlantic Coast population is limited to coastal portions of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and northeastern Florida.

In the breeding season, Painted Buntings are found in partly open situations with dense brush and scattered trees, riparian thickets, and weedy and shrubby areas. In migration and winter, they are found in a variety of open weedy, grassy, and scrub habitats, as well as in open woodland.

Painted Buntings feed mostly on seeds and insects, foraging mainly on the ground but also in shrubs and low trees (although males typically deliver their warbling songs from higher in the trees). During migration, Painted Buntings may forage in mixed flocks with Indigo Buntings (P. cyanea).

A male Painted Bunting may have more than one mate. The female builds the nest and lays 3 to 4 (sometimes 5) eggs. Nests are frequently parasitized by cowbirds. Incubation (by the female only) is 11 to 12 days. The nestlings are fed by the female and leave the nest 12 to 14 days after hatching, at which time the male may take over feeding if the female begins incubating a second clutch.

Across their breeding distribution, abundance estimates indicate that the Painted Bunting is in long-term decline. One key factor contributing to the overall decline of the Painted Bunting is loss of breeding habitat as a result of urban development, road-building, and agricultural intensification. The effects of this habitat loss are most acute along the Atlantic Coast, where this species’ distribution is limited. Loss of riparian habitats in the southwestern United States and northwest Mexico, used during migration by the interior population, may also be influencing population levels in this species and wintering habitats in Central America continue to be degraded. It is likely that the cage bird trade on the wintering grounds has also played and continues to play an important role in the Painted Bunting's decline. The colorful adult males have been been traded for a very long time, with thousands of live birds having being shipped to Europe for sale in the early 19th century. This trade was banned in the United States in the early 20th century, but continues to be legal in other countries. Some estimates suggest that at least 100,000 Painted Buntings were trapped in Mexico between 1984 and 2000. International trade in wild-caught birds was banned in Mexico from 1982 to 1999, but resumed quickly after the ban was lifted.

Genetic data and studies of differential timing and patterns of molt and migration support the recognition of two allopatric and genetically isolated breeding populations in the southern United States, an important finding to guide conservation planning. These isolated populations represent incipient species--distinct evolutionarily significant units (ESUs)--which likely require distinct management plans.

(Thompson 1991; Kaufman 1996; AOU 1998; Herr et al. 2011 and references therein)

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Distribution

Painted bunting breeding range is divided into a western and an eastern population.The western population ranges from Kansas south to Louisiana and Texas. The eastern population is limited to the coastal regions of North Carolina south to northern Florida. The western population winters primarily in Mexico and as far south as Panama. The eastern populations winter in southern Florida, including the Florida Keys, and are occasionally seen to winter in the Bahamas and Cuba (Lowther et al. 1999).

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); neotropical (Native )

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Global Range: BREEDING: southeastern New Mexico, northern Texas, central Oklahoma, west-central Kansas, southern Missouri, and southwestern Tennessee south to southern Chihuahua, northern Coahuila, southern Texas, southern Louisiana, and along Gulf Coast to southern Alabama, locally to western Florida, and, disjunctly, North Carolina to central Florida (AOU 1998, Lowther et al. 1999).

NON-BREEDING: northwestern Bahamas, Florida, southern Tamaulipas, and Sinaloa south to West Indies and Panama (AOU 1998); also locally in the U.S. along the Gulf Coast (Thompson 1991). Eastern population winters mainly in southern Florida, the Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, and Haiti; western population winters mainly in southern Texas, Mexico, and Central America (Thompson 1991).

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Range Description

Passerina ciris occurs in two geographically disjunct populations: a western population breeding from northern Mexico to northern Texas, USA, and wintering in south-west Mexico; and an eastern population breeding along the Atlantic coast from North Carolina to Florida (USA) and wintering in southern Florida and the Caribbean (Lowther et al. 1999). The global population is estimated to be 3.6 million birds (Rich et al. 2003). Populations have declined since the mid-1960s and the species has been extirpated from parts of its range in south-west and east USA and north-east Mexico (Lowther et al. 1999, Sauer et al. 2003, NAS 2004, USFWS 2004). Breeding Bird Survey data from the continental USA (and for five years from north-east Mexico) indicates that the population has declined by 55% over the last 30 years (Iñigo-Elias et al. 2002, Rich et al. 2003), with the steepest declines in the eastern population.
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occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Breeding

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Physical Description

Morphology

Painted buntings are small brightly colored birds. They are 12 to 13cm in length with an average body weight of 16 grams. Adult birds are dimorphic, the males being brightly colored. The head and nape of the males is blue, the back is bronze-green and the rump and underparts are red.The females are less brilliantly colored having dark greenish upperparts and yellow-green underparts.The wings and tail of both the male and female are dark brown or black contrasting with the rest of the body. The feet and legs, eyes and bill of both sexes are dark in color. The feet and legs are dull to dusky brown, the eyes are dark brown to hazel and the bill is dark brown to blackish in color. Plumage of juvenile birds resembles that of the adult female. The males differentiate from the females during their second year where they begin to exhibit the blue feathers on their head (Lowther et al. 1999).

Range mass: 13 to 19 g.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry

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Size

Length: 14 cm

Weight: 16 grams

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Ecology

Habitat

Marismas Nacionales-San Blas Mangroves Habitat

This taxon is found in the Marismas Nacionales-San Blas mangroves ecoregion contains the most extensive block of mangrove ecosystem along the Pacific coastal zone of Mexico, comprising around 2000 square kilometres. Mangroves in Nayarit are among the most productive systems of northwest Mexico. These mangroves and their associated wetlands also serve as one of the most important winter habitat for birds in the Pacific coastal zone, by serving about eighty percent of the Pacific migratory shore bird populations.

Although the mangroves grow on flat terrain, the seven rivers that feed the mangroves descend from mountains, which belong to the physiographic province of the Sierra Madre Occidental. The climate varies from temperate-dry to sub-humid in the summer, when the region receives most of its rainfall (more than 1000 millimetres /year).

Red Mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans), Buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus) and White Mangrove trees (Laguncularia racemosa) occur in this ecoregion. In the northern part of the ecoregion near Teacapán the Black Mangrove tree is dominant; however, in the southern part nearer Agua Brava, White Mangrove dominates. Herbaceous vegetation is rare, but other species that can be found in association with mangrove trees are: Ciruelillo (Phyllanthus elsiae), Guiana-chestnut (Pachira aquatica), and Pond Apple (Annona glabra).

There are are a number of reptiles present, which including a important population of Morelet's Crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii) and American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) in the freshwater marshes associated with tropical Cohune Palm (Attalea cohune) forest. Also present in this ecoregion are reptiles such as the Green Iguana (Iguana iguana), Mexican Beaded Lizard (Heloderma horridum) and Yellow Bellied Slider (Trachemys scripta). Four species of endangered sea turtle use the coast of Nayarit for nesting sites including Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), Olive Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas).

A number of mammals are found in the ecoregion, including the Puma (Puma concolor), Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), Jaguar (Panthera onca), Southern Pygmy Mouse (Baiomys musculus), Saussure's Shrew (Sorex saussurei). In addition many bat taxa are found in the ecoregion, including fruit eating species such as the Pygmy Fruit-eating Bat (Artibeus phaeotis); Aztec Fruit-eating Bat (Artibeus aztecus) and Toltec Fruit-eating Bat (Artibeus toltecus); there are also bat representatives from the genus myotis, such as the Long-legged Myotis (Myotis volans) and the Cinnamon Myotis (M. fortidens).

There are more than 252 species of birds, 40 percent of which are migratory, including 12 migratory ducks and approximately 36 endemic birds, including the Bumblebee Hummingbird, (Atthis heloisa) and the Mexican Woodnymph (Thalurania ridgwayi). Bojórquez considers the mangroves of Nayarit and Sinaloa among the areas of highest concentration of migratory birds. This ecoregion also serves as wintering habitat and as refuge from surrounding habitats during harsh climatic conditions for many species, especially birds; this sheltering effect further elevates the conservation value of this habitat.

Some of the many representative avifauna are Black-bellied Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis), Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), Roseate Spoonbill (Ajaia ajaja), Snowy Egret (Egretta thula), sanderling (Calidris alba), American Kestrel (Falco sparverius), Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors), Mexican Jacana (Jacana spinosa), Elegant Trogan (Trogan elegans), Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra), White-tailed Hawk (Buteo albicaudatus), Merlin (Falco columbarius), Plain-capped Starthroat (Heliomaster constantii), Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris) and Wood Stork (Mycteria americana).

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The western population's breeding habitat consists of partially open areas scattered with brush, riparian thickets and shrubbery. The eastern population's breeding habitat consists of scrub communities and the margins of maritime hammocks.

Wintering habitat is similar for both the western and eastern populations, consisting of tropical forest margins and tropical savanna.

Foraging habitat is the same as either their breeding or wintering habitat. During migration foraging can occur in mixed flocks with indigo buntings

(Kaufmann 1996, Lowther et al. 1999).

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; scrub forest

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
The western population breeds in scrub-brush habitat that remains largely intact, and the eastern population inhabits coastal plain agricultural land (Lowther et al. 1999).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Comments: In general, few data exist on habitat requirements and they are not well quantified (Lowther et al. 1999). Partly open situations with scattered brush and trees, riparian thickets and brush, weedy and shrubby areas, woodland edges, yards and gardens in the southern U.S. Nests in bush or vine tangle, usually 1-2 meters up; sometimes in tree in thick Spanish moss at greater height (Harrison 1978). Western breeding populations use semi-open country with scattered trees and shrubs, riparian areas, abandoned farmland and other early successional stages (Parmalee 1959, AOU 1998).

In the Ouachitas of southwestern Arkansas, common in areas with a patchy mixture of open pasture and well-developed fencerows where farms are still small and family-run (J. Neal, pers. comm.). In southwest Missouri, 18 of 19 measured territories included predominantly old field vegetation (82 percent), with the remainder woodland (18 percent). Vegetative characteristics, however, varied widely between territories suggesting that a broad range of conditions are tolerated (Norris 1982, Norris and Elder 1982).

The southeastern coastal population uses a variety of habitats for breeding (Lanyon and Thompson 1986, Cox 1996, Meyers et al. 1999). While Meyers et al. (1999) found nesting success to be similar in beach shrub-scrub, managed pine-oak forest, and old growth oak forest, some forest-nesting individuals traveled up to 800 meters to feed in grassy or marshy openings, while shrub-scrub birds remained in core areas. Lanyon and Thompson (1986) determined that salt marsh/forest edge territories were preferred over interior forest, and concluded they were of higher quality.

Territory sizes measured include 1.13 hectares for one in Oklahoma (Parmalee 1959) and an average of 3.15 hectares on the edge of the range in Missouri (range 0.64-6.66 hectares, n = 19; Norris 1982, Norris and Elder 1982). Territories tend to be larger when there are no other territories adjoining (Norris 1982, Norris and Elder 1982), and smaller in high-quality habitat where territories are contiguous (Finke 1979, Lanyon and Thompson 1986). Males tend to return to nesting sites used in previous year (Lanyon and Thompson 1986).

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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Thompson (1991a and 1991b) notes that the western population begins fall migration two months earlier than the eastern population, and that western birds undergo a molt while stopping in desert areas of the southeastern Arizona and northwestern Mexico (rather than molting while still on the breeding grounds as eastern birds do). Loss of riparian habitat in this area may be a "bottleneck affecting population numbers" (Lowther et al. 1999). Arrives in Costa Rica in late October, departs by late March (Stiles and Skutch 1989).

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Trophic Strategy

Painted buntings are diurnal foragers, mainly feeding on grass seeds (Panicum spp., Amaranthus spp., Oxalis spp., Euphorbia spp. and Carex spp.) when in the wintering habitat and arthropods (grasshoppers[Orthoptera], caterpillars [Lepidoptera larvae], spiders [Arachnida] and snails [Gastropoda]) in their breeding habitat. The majority of food is foraged from the ground with some seeds being taken directly from the grass stalk. Painted buntings have also been observed stealing prey caught in spider webs (Kaufmann 1996; Lowther et al. 1999).

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Comments: Eats mainly grass seeds, also insects and spiders (Terres 1980).

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General Ecology

In winter in Mexico, occurs singly or in small groups; individuals may return to the same wintering site in successive years (Rappole and Warner 1980). Mean territory size 3.15 hectares (range 0.64-6.66, n=19) in Missouri (Norris 1982, Norris and Elder 1982).

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Life Expectancy

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
126 months.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 12 years
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Reproduction

The breeding season begins in late April through to early August peaking mid-May through to mid-July. Males usually arrive at the breeding territory one week before the females. Pairs are usually monogamous with rare instances of polygyny. Nests are located in low lying vegetation. The nests are built by the females and woven into the surrounding vegetation for strength. The females raise two broods per season laying between 3 and 4 eggs per brood. The eggs are incubated for a period of 11 days until the altricial young hatch. Parental care of the young is solely the female's responsibility until fledging occurs 12-14 days later . Time between fledging in the first nest to the second nest is around 30 days (Kaufman 1996; Lowther et al. 1999).

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous

Average time to hatching: 11 days.

Average eggs per season: 4.

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Eggs are laid March-July (mostly May-June). Usually produces two broods per year, sometimes up to four. Clutch size usually is three to four. Incubation, by female, lasts 11-12 days. Young are probably tended by female alone; leave nest at 8-14 days.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Passerina ciris

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 3 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

ACTATACCTGATCTTCGGCGCATGAGCCGGGATAGTAGGTACTGCCCTAAGCCTCCTCATCCGAGCAGAGCTGGGTCAACCTGGAGCTCTTCTAGGGGACGACCAAGTATACAACGTAGTCGTCACAGCCCATGCTTTCGTAATAATTTTCTTCATAGTAATGCCAATTATAATCGGAGGGTTCGGAAACTGACTAGTCCCTCTAATAATTGGAGCCCCAGACATAGCATTCCCACGAATAAACAACATAAGCTTCTGACTACTTCCCCCATCCTTCCTACTCCTCCTAGCATCTTCCACAGTCGAAGCAGGGGTGGGCACAGGCTGAACAGTTTACCCCCCACTAGCAGGCAACCTAGCCCACGCCGGAGCTTCAGTCGACCTGGCAATCTTCTCCCTACACCTAGCCGGTATCTCCTCTATCCTGGGAGCTATCAACTTTATTACAACAGCAATTAACATAAAACCCCCTGCCCTCTCACAATACCAAACCCCCTTATTCGTCTGATCAGTCCTAATTACCGCAGTTCTCCTACTCCTATCTCTCCCAGTACTCGCCGCAGGCATCACAATACTCCTAACAGACCGCAACCTCAACACTACTTTCTTCGACCCTGCTGGAGGAGGAGACCCAGTCCTGTATCAACACCTCTTCTGATTCTTTGGCNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Passerina ciris

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Overall there has been a general decline in painted bunting numbers since the mid 1960's. Their desirability as caged birds and loss of habitat is the primary cause of their decline. Painted Buntings are still trapped and sold in Central America and transported over-seas by ship. Habitat destruction constitutes the main reason for their decline. Development of coastal swamp thickets and woodland edges has significantly reduced their eastern coastal habitats. The loss of mid-migratory staging areas (riparian habitat) in southwest USA and in northwest Mexico have contributed to the western population decline. To a lesser extent brood parasitism by cowbirds (Molothrus ) contributes to the Painted bunting's decline. The painted bunting is currently listed on Partners in Flight Watchlist as a species of special concern (Kaufmann 1996, Lowther et al. 1999).

Painted buntings are listed as near-threatened by the IUCN, and they are protected by the U.S. Migratory Bird Act.

US Migratory Bird Act: protected

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
NT
Near Threatened

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s
Butcher, G., Pashley, D., Rosenberg, K. & Wells, J.

Justification
This species has declined over the long term and apparently continues to do so at a moderately rapid rate. It is therefore considered to be Near Threatened.

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National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5B - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Population

Population
Rich et al. (2004).


Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
Loss and intensification of habitat through urban development, road building and agricultural intensification, and capture for the cagebird trade are the primary threats (Lowther et al. 1999, Iñigo-Elias et al. 2002, Phillips Lynch 2004), with part of the declines also being attributed to brood-parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbird. Trapping and sale in local markets occurs in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, and overseas to international markets in Europe, South America and Asia (Ramos 1982, Iñigo-Elias 1986, Iñigo-Elias et al. 2002).
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Comments: HABITAT: Breeding habitat loss is generally considered to be the greatest threat (Muehter 1998, Lowther et al. 1999); this is especially well documented along the Atlantic coast (Meyers, pers. comm.).

PET TRADE: Capture of individual birds for sale in the pet trade is apparently a significant concern on the wintering grounds in Central America (Muehter 1998).

PARASITISM: Brown-headed cowbird (MOLOTHRUS ATER) parasitism is known from both western and eastern populations. Thirteen 13 of 45 nests parasitized in Oklahoma (Parmalee 1959), 4 of 60 nests parasitized in Texas in an area where extensive cowbird removal had been carried out (Barber and Martin 1997), and 8 percent of an unspecified number of nests on barrier islands in Georgia (Meyers et al. 1999). Whether or not brood parasitism is a significant factor in population declines is not known.

PREDATION: Predators are likely similar to those of other small passerines and do not seem to be an unusual threat (Lowther et al. 1999).

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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions Underway
The species is monitored, but no other specific actions are known.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Tightly control any ongoing trade in the species. Develop an appropriate management strategy to reverse population declines. Develop a comprehensive conservation strategy including adaptive harvesting for populations in the Caribbean and Latin America (Iñigo-Elias 2006).
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Restoration Potential: Restoration potential is probably good, with appropriate habitat management. Some apparent range expansion along the Atlantic coast and in Florida (Potter et al. 1980, Taylor et al. 1989, Stevenson and Anderson 1994) suggests the ability to recolonize suitable habitat previously inhabited in southeast Arizona and New Mexico.

Preserve Selection and Design Considerations: Preserves for both the eastern and western populations will need to maintain early to mid-successional vegetation, with an emphasis on retaining a mix of open and wooded or shrubby components. In the southeast, protecting beach shrub-scrub and coastal wetland habitats will be important (Meyers 1999). More detailed preserve design specifications must await the completion of further study, some of which is underway (Sykes and Meyers 1999).

There are no data to suggest parameters for preserves on the wintering grounds; it is possible that protection from illegal capture and sale for the pet trade may be as significant a factor as habitat protection (Muehter 1998).

Because the western populations spend significant time molting and feeding during their autumn stopover in southeastern Arizona and northwestern Mexico, consideration should be given to the protection of habitat in this region--especially riparian vegetation (Thompson 1991a, 1991b). No information which might guide the design of such preserves appears to exist, however.

Management Requirements: In areas where succession proceeds toward forested climax conditions, managers will need to interrupt this process through mowing, burning, herbicide application or other means. The most significant concern for the Atlantic coast populations is the transformation of valuable wetland and scrub-shrub habitats into intensive pine management and residential development (Meyers 1999); successful management will require the protection of existing habitat.

Management Research Needs: Population declines are well documented, but reasons for the declines need more study. A better understanding of threats within the breeding range and wintering area, and the biology of the western populations on their fall migration stopover are needed. The relationship of habitat quality to nesting success, especially across the range of the western population, needs research. Effects of brown-headed cowbird (MOLOTHRUS ATER) nest parasitism needs further study. Cowbird impact is less than among some coexisting species (Barber and Martin 1997; Meyers et al. 1999), but may become a factor among eastern populations which have only recently come into contact with cowbirds (Lowther 1993, Lowther et al. 1999).

Biological Research Needs: Genetic studies of the eastern and western populations should be undertaken to determine if they are distinct species or if the two subspecies currently described are appropriately defined (Thompson 1991b, Lowther et al. 1999).

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Painted buntings are highly desired as caged birds due to their brightly colored plumage. Painted buntings are trapped and sold in large numbers in Central America and exported from New Orleans , by ship, to Europe where they are sold for greatly inflated prices. (Lowther et al. 1999)

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Risks

Stewardship Overview: Populations across the breeding range have shown decreases of 3.0 percent per year from 1966-1998, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS). Although more study needs to be done, loss of breeding habitat appears to be a factor in this decline. Management should include protection of existing habitat and vegetative manipulation to create early and mixed-successional stages. Monitoring by the BBS should continue, along with studies to determine relationships between habitat change over time and reproductive success. Better understanding of problems in wintering areas and (for western populations) important molt-migration areas in desert habitats of southeastern Arizona and northwestern Mexico should also be sought.

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Wikipedia

Painted bunting

The painted bunting (Passerina ciris) is a species of bird in the Cardinal family, Cardinalidae, that is native to North America.

Taxonomy[edit]

The painted bunting was originally described by Linnaeus in his eighteenth-century work Systema Naturae.[2] There are two recognized subspecies of the painted bunting:[3][4]

  • P. c. ciris(Linnaeus, 1758): nominate, breeds in the southeastern United States
  • P. c. pallidiorMearns, 1911: breeds in south central US and northern Mexico
Female
Male

Description[edit]

The male painted bunting is often described as the most beautiful bird in North America. Its colors, dark blue head, green back, red rump, and underparts, make it extremely easy to identify, but it can still be difficult to spot since it often skulks in foliage even when it is singing. The plumage of female and juvenile painted buntings is green and yellow-green, serving as camouflage. Once seen, the adult female is still distinctive, since it is a brighter, truer green than other similar songbirds. Adult painted buntings can measure 12–14 cm (4.7–5.5 in) in length, span 21–23 cm (8.3–9.1 in) across the wings and weigh 13–19 g (0.46–0.67 oz).[5][6]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The painted bunting occupies typical habitat for a member of its family. It is found in thickets, woodland edges with riparian thickets, shrubbery and brushy areas. In the east, the species breeds in maritime hammocks and scrub communities. Today, it is often found along roadsides and in suburban areas, and in gardens with dense, shrubby vegetation. The wintering habitat is typically the shrubby edges along the border of tropical forests or densely vegetated savanna.[7] The breeding range includes southern Arizona, southern New Mexico, southern and eastern Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, northern Florida, coastal Georgia, the southern coast of South Carolina, and northern Mexico.[1] They winter in South Florida, Cuba, the Bahamas, along both coasts of Mexico and through much of Central America. Occasionally, they may be vagrants further north, including to New York[8] Pennsylvania[9] and New Jersey.[10] The bird is also found every few years as far north as New Brunswick, Canada.[11]

Behavior[edit]

Painted buntings are shy, secretive and often difficult to observe for the human eye, though can be fairly approachable where habituated to bird feeders. Males sing in spring from exposed perches to advertise their territories. They also engage in visual displays including flying bouncingly like a butterfly or in an upright display, body-fluff display, bow display and wing-quiver display. These displays are used in agonistic conflicts with other males or in breeding displays for females, with females rarely engaging in displays. Occasionally, males may physical clash with each other and may even kill each other in such conflicts.[5] When their breeding season has concluded, buntings migrate by night over short to medium distances. Western birds (Arizona and northern Mexico) molt in mid-migration, while eastern birds tend to molt before they migrate.[7]

Feeding[edit]

Painted buntings often feed by hopping along the ground, cautiously stopping every few moments to look around. The painted bunting regularly eats a large quantity of grass seeds, including Panicum, Amaranthus, Oxalis, Euphorbia, and Carex. Seeds are eaten almost exclusively during winter. While breeding, painted bunting and nestlings mainly eat small invertebrates, including spiders, snails, grasshoppers, caterpillars, and other insects. They have been known to regularly visit spider webs to pick off small insects caught in them.[7]

Breeding[edit]

Painted buntings are mostly monogamous and are solitary or in pairs during the breeding season, but sometimes exhibit polygyny. The breeding season begins in late April and lasts through to early August, with activity peaking mid-May through to mid-July. The male arrives about a week before the female and starts to establish a small territory. The nest is typically hidden in low, dense vegetation and is built by the females and woven into the surrounding vegetation for strength.[7] Each brood contains three or four gray-white eggs, often spotted with brown, which are incubated for around 10 days until the altricial young are hatched. The female alone cares for the young. The hatchlings are brooded for approximately 12 to 14 days and then fledge at that time. About 30 days after the first eggs hatch, the female painted bunting usually lays a second brood.[7] Nests are often parasitized by cowbirds.[7] Common predators at the nest of eggs, young, and brooding females are large snakes, including coachwhip snakes, eastern kingsnakes, eastern racers, and black rat snakes.[7] Bird-hunting raptors, including short-tailed hawks, Accipiter hawks, and even the small passerine loggerhead shrike, may hunt painted buntings, including the conspicuous breeding-plumaged male. The painted bunting can live to over 10 years of age, though most wild buntings probably live barely half that long.[7]

Status[edit]

The male painted bunting was once a very popular caged bird, but its capture and holding is currently illegal.[12] Trapping for overseas sale may still occur in Central America.[7] Populations are primarily declining due to habitat being lost to development, especially in coastal swamp thickets and woodland edges in the east and riparian habitats in migration and winter in the Southeastern United States and Mexico.[7] They are categorized as near threatened by the IUCN[1] and are protected by the U.S. Migratory Bird Act.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c BirdLife International (2012). "Passerina ciris". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Linnaeus, Carolus (1758). Systema Naturae (in Latin). Stockholm (Holmiae): Laurentii Salvii. p. 320. OCLC 174638949. Retrieved 4 February 2008. 
  3. ^ "Passerina ciris". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. ITIS-North America. Retrieved 23 February 2008. 
  4. ^ Gill, F.; Donsker, D., eds. (2014). "IOC World Bird List (v 4.4)". doi:10.14344/IOC.ML.4.4. Retrieved 16 November 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Painted Bunting". All About Birds. Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 
  6. ^ "Painted Bunting". Nebraska Bird Library. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Stefanyk, D. (2001). "Passerina ciris (On-line)". Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved 16 November 2014. 
  8. ^ "Gallery of New York Rarities: Painted Bunting". New York State Avian Records Committee. 
  9. ^ "Pictorial Highlights, Unusual Captures: Painted Bunting". Carnegie Museum of Natural History's Powdermill Avian Research Center (PARC). 
  10. ^ Kashlak, Jane (10 January 2005). "Stalking Cape May's Painted Bunting". Cape May Times. 
  11. ^ "Rare painted bunting spotted in the Acadian Peninsula". CBC News. 15 November 2014. 
  12. ^ McDonald, Gavin (1999). A Field Guide to the Birds. HMCo Field Guides. p. 252. ISBN 0-395-96371-0. 
  • Lanyon, S.M.; Thompson, C.F. (1986). "Site fidelity and habitat quality as determinants of settlement pattern in male Painted Buntings". Condor 88 (2): 206–210. doi:10.2307/1368917. 

Further reading[edit]

Book[edit]

  • Lowther, P.E.; Lanyon, S.M.; Thompson, C.W. (1999). Poole, A.; Gill, F., eds. Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris). The Birds of North America (398) (Philadelphia, PA: The Birds of North America, Inc.). 


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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: An examination of morphological variation by Thompson (1991b) indicated that recognition of the two nominal subspecies, PALLIDIOR and CIRIS, as currently defined, is not warranted. However, Thompson (1991b) suggested that the eastern population (breeds from North Carolina south to Florida) and the western population (breeds from Arizona, Kansas, and Missouri south to northern Mexico, southern Texas, southern Louisiana, southern Mississippi, southern Alabama, and extreme western Florida) may be two distinct species. A phylogenetic, mitochondrial cytochrome-b study by Klicka et al. (2001) did not examine this relationship, but placed P. CIRIS and P. VERSICOLOR as sister species. LINARIA is an invalid generic name for North America buntings (Banks and Browning 1995).

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