Last updated: July 29. 2014 12:16PM - 303 Views
by Sue Hokanson, Quartz Mountain Nature Park

Female or Immature Painted Bunting that was stunned when it hit a window at the Park Office in 2013. Photo by Patrick Reeves
Female or Immature Painted Bunting that was stunned when it hit a window at the Park Office in 2013. Photo by Patrick Reeves
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Had the privilege of having a family of Painted Buntings stop by the Nature Center for their Sunday bath this week. Both the male and female were escorting three juveniles. The sprinkler was on rather low, with the water barely rising 15 inches in the air while tucked in amongst the blooming Zinnias.

The Painted Buntings are beautiful, small finches. The male has a blue head, red body and yellowish & green wings. The female and juveniles are darker green above and lighter green below, with a pale eye-ring.

The female arrived first and did a quick dash through the sprinkler. Then the three juveniles arrived and lined up on a railroad tie where all three could get sprinkled at once. The male arrived last and proceeded to bathe while the female was alert for danger. The juveniles loved the sprinkler! They bathed all while the male did and then stayed in the sprinkler when he switched over to watch-bird and the female got to bathe. All told they were probably at the Nature Center for a good thirty minutes.

However anytime a car drove past the nature center, all would fly to cover in the Live Oak thicket. These were very skittish birds. Much to my dismay, I could not get a picture!

Painting Buntings will be here for several more weeks. Then they will migrate to their winter/non breeding grounds. Painted Buntings spend most of their time in shrub-scrub vegetation. So the more low-lying, dense vegetation (small trees, hedges, dense bushes, or undergrowth) the more likely you are to find painted Buntings.

At Quartz Mountain we have areas where it is very scrubby /shrubby with lots of Post oaks, live oaks, red cedar & mesquite trees. There is plenty of low vegetation for these colorful birds and we have at least two breeding pairs. One pair nests around the Park Office while other nests around the Nature Center.

These birds forage mostly on the ground or in low brush. The painted bunting diet consists mostly of seeds and insects. In breeding season they eat insects, insect larvae, and spiders. In fall and winter eat seeds. Painted Buntings love white millet, which is the small round seed found in many basic seed mixes. So providing white millet closer to the ground-Near or in hedges or undergrowth, will increase your chances of attracting them to your yard

the more low-lying, dense vegetation

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