Backyard Birding: An Elusive Painted Bunting

During our weekend excursion out to the Das Jager Haus, I had the privilege to spend my days under the shade of a small pecan grove capturing images of many beautiful and bountiful central Texas native birds. The sheer quantity of hummingbirds, titmice, chickadees and cardinals was absolutely insane, but there was one bird that took my breath away; the painted bunting.

For those of you who know of these Painted Buntings, you know their beauty is unparalleled (at least in this part of the country). The bird itself is a bit of a rarity and can be difficult to spot due to their shyness, size and habits. Up until this weekend I had only ever seen them in field guides and kind of considered them to be the “white whale” of birding. I certainly never set out to find one so when I did this very weekend I was kind of shocked. I had read somewhere that people seek them out and rarely find one.

A “kaleidoscope of color,” the painted bunting is diminutive in size and tends to hide out on the edges of prairie grass in the shrubs and trees along the periphery. Apparently they do not like dense tree cover and it is a necessity to have a clean water source nearby to encourage their visitation and nesting. Additionally, they will visit feeder that are protected from “bully birds” and enjoy a variety of seed, but have a particular fondness for millet.

I managed to capture some images of this bunting about 30 yards away hopping around the ground near a water hose junction just beneath a small grove of trees beside the cabin. Apparently the bird was enjoying the loose connection of the hoses where, further investigation would show, a small pool of fresh well-water had pooled. Shortly after the photo-shoot, the bunting moved closer (about 15 yards away) underneath the small feeder where the titmice and chickadees had created a mess beneath the feeder. 

I managed to get a few more images before the small bunting flew away back to his grove. I did not hear his song and only captured a handful of clear pics, but from what I read/hear, that is a pretty impressive feet in itself.

Published by DW

Freelance writer, photographer and traveler who enjoys sharing his experiences with others.

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