The Painted Bunting’s normal pattern for migration traverses the Southeastern United States to northeastern Mexico during its breeding / summer season, and in the winter, across Florida, the Bahamas, Cuba, and Mexico, south to Costa Rica and Western Panama. After reading about the spotting of this creature, I set out to do the same. I finally met with success on my third attempt (three times is a charm) on January 3, 2016, and have seen this Painted Bunting several times over the last couple of weeks. It is very exciting to see a bird who has strayed outside of its normal range.
Male Painted Buntings are stunningly colored – sporting blue heads, red under-parts, and green backs. Juvenile male Painted Bunting’s plumages are primarily green, and will not display their bright multi-colors plumage until their second year. These birds tend stay low to the ground in dense cover. In the Hatfield Swamp I have also observed the Painting Bunting perched on the shrubs, including the phragmites (phragmites australis) as well as on other shrubs/grasses surrounding the phragmites. Phragmites are also known as Common Reed, a large perennial grass that is prevalent in wetland areas.
I hope this Painted Bunting decides to adopt the Hatfield Swamp as his new home for a while, as he will eventually molt into his more colorful and radiant adult plumage. I will definitely be looking out for this bird and will post further updates (with photos) if he does decide to stick around.