Painted buntings occur in two geographically distinct breeding populations: a western population that ranges from northwest Florida to Texas, including Oklahoma and parts of Mexico; and an eastern population limited to coastal areas from North Carolina to northern Florida, and inland along large rivers. Two subspecies are recognized based on geographic distribution, migration patterns and timing of molt (shedding of feathers). Painted buntings in Franklin, Gulf, Bay and Wakulla counties of the Florida Panhandle may be an expansion of the western subspecies or an overlap of occurrence. Genetic studies are needed to determine the range of the two subspecies, or if they are so dissimilar that two separate species should be designated. Florida is the only state with a breeding and wintering population.
Painted Buntings are eagerly awaited winter visitors. The males’ brilliant colors contrast strongly with the more demure green females, but both are pretty secretive, so not that easy to spot in foliage. While the females exclusively feed the young in the nest, males take over feeding once a second brood is started. Northeast Florida’s coastal areas are home to the state’s largest breeding population, where singing males can be found between April and August.
I found this male in Polk County, Florida.
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Sometimes called the "Nonpareil," meaning "unrivalled," a fair way to describe the unbelievable colors of the male Painted Bunting. This species is locally common in the Southeast, around brushy areas and woodland edges. It is often secretive, staying low in dense cover. However, males sing their bright warbling songs from higher in the trees, partly hidden among foliage or sometimes out in the sun on an exposed perch. Some lucky Floridians have Painted Buntings coming to their bird feeders in winter.
Adult female is mostly dull green, paler and yellower below, especially in the center of the breast and belly. Lores duller. This pattern is retained year-round, although a small proportion of females in alternate plumage (worn roughly between March and September) may have some blue feathers on the head.
Briefly, immature Painted Buntings resemble adult females in plumage. Immature females are average duller than adult females (often with a slight grayish undertone to the plumage). Immature males are brighter than immature females. A high proportion (approximately 40%) of young male Painted Buntings acquire some patches of blue feathers on the head by a prealternate molt early in the second calendar year, when the plumage otherwise remains mostly green. The multi-colored adult plumage is not attained until the following prebasic molt, late in the second calendar year.
I found this female (99% sure) in my backyard. I have three pair of Painted Bunting spending the Winter with me. Polk County, Florida.
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Why don’t you see them more often? The black-crowned night heron mainly feeds after dark. You are most likely to spot them at dusk and dawn along the edge of a waterway.
The black-crowned night heron was among many species declining nationwide between the 1940s and 1970s due to the cumulative effects of DDT and similar pesticides. Those environmental toxins were banned in the early 1970s.
While no longer considered at risk of a declining population, these herons are still affected by the accumulation of pollutants in the shellfish and fish they eat.
They are, however, one of the most wide-ranging of herons across North America. It is the larger of the two night heron species found in Florida.
With rare exceptions, the black-crowned night herons usually hover close to the water’s edge.
They commonly can be seen on mangrove roots, walking carefully along the edge of mud flats, and picking their way through cypress strands.
While they can be seen year-round in Florida, they can be found as far west as the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and Washington. They seasonally range into the central Canadian provinces and up the east coast all the way to Maine.
They feed in wetlands – freshwater, saltwater, and brackish – so that is the most likely place to find them.
I found this one just after sunrise along Peavine Road in Osceola County, Florida.
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One of our most popular birds, the Cardinal is the official state bird of no fewer than seven eastern states. Abundant in the Southeast, it has been extending its range northward for decades, and it now brightens winter days with its color and its whistled song as far north as southeastern Canada. Feeders stocked with sunflower seeds may have aided its northward spread. West of the Great Plains, the Cardinal is mostly absent, but it is locally common in the desert Southwest.
The Northern Cardinal’s name dates back to the time of the United States founding colonists, stemming from the similarity of the males’ vibrant red plumage to the red biretta and vestments of distinguishable Catholic cardinals.
During courtship, affection is expressed by the males feeding their females seeds in a method known as “beak to beak.” If you choose to let your imagination run wild, you could certainly say that the birds look like they are kissing!
The average lifespan of a Northern Cardinal is approximately three years due to the hazards they face, which include predators, disease, accidents, and starvation
But the oldest recorded wild Northern Cardinal lived to be 15 years and 9 months. This female was banded as a young bird and tracked in Pennsylvania.
I found this female, in my backyard in Polk County, Florida.
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The Painted bunting is a small brightly-colored member of the cardinal family. The males are brightly colored with blue, green, red and yellow plumage. Females and juveniles are bright green with pale rings around their eyes. The male is considered by many to be North America's most beautiful bird, and they are one of the most popular visitors to bird feeders. Painted buntings are one of the most spectacularly colored and visually impressive birds in the United States and are the only U.S. bird with a blue head along with red underparts.
Painted Buntings are still fairly common, but populations have been dropping for several decades. The North American Breeding Bird Survey estimated a decline of 62% between 1966 and 1995, but the 1966-2014 survey does not find significant decreases, suggesting that populations may have stabilized, or at least the decline has slowed, since 1995. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 13 million, with 80% spending at least part of the year in the U.S., and 51% in Mexico. The species rates a 12 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, and is not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List. Painted Bunting is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List.
Found this male in Lake Wales, Polk County, Florida.
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