A dozen pure golden goldfinches were searching for dandelion seeds in the stray grass of May. As it stands, they fall short of the painted bunting that appeared at Tom O’Connor’s bird feeder in Clarke County, Virginia a few days ago.The primary colours used in an adult man painted bunting mimic an unopened box of crayons. In a superb understatement, Roger Tory Peterson’s bird book describes it as “visually arresting.” The gold-green back feathers and the glistening blue head are it. The bird’s underbelly is bright red from beak to tail when viewed from underneath. The wings and tail of a painted bunting exhibit hints of red, green, and bronze, although the wings and tails of other birds are rarely colourful.
The bunting-bedazzled eye, however, scarcely notices the brilliance of these significant feathers.The painted bunting’s gift of beauty could also be its downfall. They ended up as decorations for people’s houses. John James Audubon had access to caged painted buntings in the 1840s on the streets of New Orleans. The desire for caged painted buntings persisted even after the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty created safeguards for all birds that travel across international borders. Never a common bird, its numbers are currently low because the males are still being captured illegally and sold on the black market as cage birds.
When they become very territorial in the spring, male painted buntings are easily captured alive in specialised cage traps. Any male painted bunting in the neighbourhood may be easily lured towards a tap by setting up inside a real male bird used as a ruse. In several outdoor markets in Mexico, Cuba, the Bahamas, and Southeastern Florida, one may easily purchase such traps.The painted bunting’s native breeding territory in North America extends inland from the Gulf states to Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, as well as portions of the East Coast from Florida to the Carolinas.
Wintering in the Bahamas, Mexico, and Central America requires a flight south. Some animals occasionally go far beyond their usual territory, going as far north as New York and Ontario, Canada.Last week, one of these stray animals showed up at Tom O’Connor’s bird feeder in Bluemont, Virginia. O’Connor, who captures beautiful images of birds, emailed me three images and detailed the incident as follows: He arrived on Tuesday, May 10, 2022, and spent the entire morning in and out. The painted bunting’s feeder was visible via the living room’s glass window.
Because of this, they aren’t (too) ар. O’Connor accepted the Nonpareil moniker for the bird, which means “without equal.”In my perspective, the pictures he included also fit under that term. I was excited to hear about this occurrence because I had never personally seen (nor painted) a painted bunting. I then sought O’Connor for his permission to post his pictures.
The bird appears to be somewhat smaller than an American goldfinch when compared to the size of the feeder. Additionally, the shot is clear enough to display the red eye ring of the bird’s feathers.It takes two years for male painted buntings to develop their stunning colours. In their first year, they are quite similar to the females, who are simply plain in contrast. Their diverse green hues correspond to the skin of a lime at various stages of maturity.