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02/26/09
Painted Bunting: a favorite bird
Filed under: General, Birding & Outdoors, Florida & SE US
Posted by: Ken @ 1:26 pm

The Painted Bunting is one of the most beautiful of our North American land birds. The female is a splendid green, matched only by some parrots and the Green Jay– except for splashes of green on some other birds, such as ducks, I can’t think of any others so colored. The male is ‘painted” surrealistically in bright red, blue and green. It was one of Mary Lou’s most sought-after birds. She finally got a brief look at one in Corkscrew Swamp this year.

This past Tuesday, we took a break from watching our local Bald Eagle nest (where the area around the nest has finally been temporarily fenced and posted) and spent all day birding wetlands in western Palm County. We had four “target” birds that we had seen previously, but really wanted to get better looks and perhaps photograph them: Snail Kite, Limpkin, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, and Painted Bunting.

We started at Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, worked our way west to the nearby Wakodahatchee Wetlands, in Delray Beach, and thence to Green Cay Nature Center in Boynton Beach. After checking in at a nearby motel, we had a very nice dinner with one of my old friends and his wife who were visiting Florida from their home in New York. He was my classmate all the way from Kindergarten through High School in Rutherford, New Jersey.

The next morning, before heading home we went on to Okeeheelee Nature Center in West Palm Beach. We dipped on the Snail Kite at Loxahatchee, which is usually the best place to find one. One had been roosting near the Visitor Center just the day before, but they are said to be easier to find when they begin nesting in a month or so.

However, this Great Egret at Loxahatchee, in breeding condition,  displayed marvelous plumes and a green mask (click on all images to choose larger views):

Great Egret Green Cay 20090224

Wakodahatchee yielded great views of the whistling-ducks:

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Wakodahatchee Wetlands 20090224

The Limpkin, named for its “limping” walk, is a much sought-after southeastern US specialty bird. We found a very obliging Limpkin at Wakodahatchee:

Limpkin Wakodahatchee Wetlands20090224

While not rare, Limpkins are notoriously hard to find. Our previous sightings of Limpkins were always transitory, as the birds have a habit of dissolving into the reeds a few seconds after being seen. This one scratched its chin nonchalantly:

Limpkin Wakodahatchee Wetlands  20090224

Okeeheelee is famous for the Painted Buntings that gather at the feeders near the interpretive center. We were not disappointed.

We saw three males in full plumage. Here are two:
 
Two Male Painted Buntings 20090225

We could not get enough of them. I maxed out the camera memory card:

Painted Bunting

Another view shows a more distinct eye ring on his right side:

Male Painted Bunting 20090225

The green females seemed more numerous than the males, and were less timid about visiting the feeders:

Painted Bunting Pair 20090225

I am always thrilled at the subtle beauty of the female Northern Cardinal. This one fed with the buntings:

Female Cardinal 20090225

3 Responses to “Painted Bunting: a favorite bird”

  1. Mary Claire Perez Says:
    Thank you for these beautiful photos! I was particularly happy to see the Painted Bunting which I knew many years back in Cuba as “Mariposa” (Butterfly). Unfortunately, it was common then (1957)to even see them in cages, like Canaries, which I very much disliked. I am not a “bird watcher” but a dear friend of mine is and brought your web-site to my attention. Thank you again.
  2. Vince Lucas Says:
    Nice photos Ken!
  3. WisconsinBirder Says:
    All of your photos are stunning but words can’t even describe those Painted Buntings! What a treat.

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