Mystery Bird: Painted Bunting, Passerina ciris

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[Mystery bird] Painted Bunting, Passerina ciris, photographed at Pelican Island, A&M Property, Galveston, Texas. [I will identify this bird for you tomorrow]
Image: Joseph Kennedy, 19 April 2007 [larger view].
Nikon D200, Kowa 883 telescope TSN-PZ camera eyepiece 1/320s f/8.0 at 500.0mm iso400.

Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.


Rick Wright, Managing Director of WINGS Birding Tours Worldwide, writes:
There are very few bright green birds north of Mexico. This is a fairly small bird, with a short tail, medium-short wing, and a heavy, “seed-eating” bill. And it is well and truly green, above and below, its verdancy relieved only by a clear but narrow whitish eye-ring.
Our first thought when we hear the words “Painted Bunting” is the always the incredibly parti-colored adult male; but female-plumaged birds are just as beautiful. The intensely green color is shared by nothing else, out-greening even the brightest of Orange-crowned Warblers. The swollen, pointed bill, the small head and short tail, are typical of the Passerina buntings, and only Painted Bunting — a bird on the move north and west — is this bright, far brighter than the pale brown Indigo and Lazuli or the dark brown Varied.
Review all mystery birds to date.

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About GrrlScientist

grrlscientist is the pseudonym of an evolutionary biologist and ornithologist who writes about evolution, ethology, and ecology, especially in birds. After earning a degree in microbiology (thesis focus: virology) and working at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, she earned her PhD in zoology from the University of Washington in Seattle, where she studied the molecular correlates of testosterone and behaviour in white-crowned sparrows. She then worked a Chapman Postdoctoral Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where she studied the speciation and distribution of lories and other parrots throughout the South Pacific Islands. A discarded scientist, she returned to her roots: writing. Formerly hosted by The Guardian (UK), she now writes about science for Forbes and for the non-profit think tank, the Evolution Institute and she writes podcasts for BirdNote Radio. An avid lifelong birder and aviculturist, she lives with a flock of songbirds and parrots somewhere in Germany.
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0 Responses to Mystery Bird: Painted Bunting, Passerina ciris

  1. The Ridger says:

    Eeek. First to guess… (gulp). Well, I believe this is a female Painted Bunting. The eye, and the overall green color, plus the apparent size.

  2. Agreed: Female Painted Bunting. I don’t know this bird personally (wish I did), but we’ve seen it a fair amount with the CONE Welder camera.

  3. JPS says:

    The general ‘sparrow’ size and shape with the green color make me say female or juvenile painted bunting.

  4. ligtv izle says:

    Well, I believe this is a female Painted Bunting. The eye, and the overall green color, plus the apparent size

  5. Rick Wright says:

    Now two birders have mentioned the bird’s eye; that’s a mark I’m not familiar with. What’s helpful to the identification there?
    Thanks!

  6. The Ridger says:

    For me, it’s the way the eye looks to have a ring around it – it doesn’t really, but there’s just something about the way it looks.

  7. Amiya says:

    Excellent photo, in fact all of yours! That the female of the species look just as beautiful contradicts most other animals. A lion or a peacock, for example is arguably more beautiful than their female counterparts. However, I find human females more beautiful!