One of the most strikingly patterned of all North American birds, the male painted bunting, with its blue head, red underparts, and yellow-green back more than lives up to its old name of nonpareil, the unequaled one. Even the female, in shades of yellow and green, is unlike any other North American bunting. Like the other buntings, it favors hedgerows, thickets, and clearings with brushy area in the breeding season, generally staying low and keeping hidden. The song is a sweet warble with the pattern of a blue grosbeak, but the tone of an indigo or lazuli bunting without the paired phrases. It breeds in the Southeast along the Atlantic coast and in the southern great Plains south to northern Mexico. In the Southeast, the population has been declining sharply in recent decades and there is concern about its survival in this part of the range. Part of the Southeast population winters in Florida, where the birds are regular feeder visitors.
Hear the painted bunting: