Researchers are monitoring the abundance and habitat use of the eastern painted bunting and conducting a banding study to determine the status of this colorful bird.
Working Group Study
Because of the perceived population decline, the Eastern Painted Bunting Working Group organized an extensive three-year study to estimate population size and understand habitat use throughout the range of the subspecies. Information about the study can be found at the Eastern Painted Bunting Population Assessment and Monitoring Project website. FWC biologists conducted the Florida component of this cooperative rangewide project from 2009 to 2011. Researchers established and monitored stations where they conducted point count surveys to estimate painted bunting abundance and determine habitat use in Florida during the breeding season.
The study revealed a much larger population than anticipated – four times the size of previous estimates. Researchers found a higher abundance of painted buntings in coastal oak hammocks and scrub, and lower numbers in pine plantations. Study results may not necessarily represent a population increase, but instead may reflect a better assessment than could be attained from previous methods such as the Breeding Bird Survey. Recent population estimates provide encouraging news about the status of the eastern painted bunting. Because of their restricted distribution, continued conservation efforts are necessary to provide suitable habitat for painted buntings and other vulnerable coastal species.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina are conducting a study to determine the survival and movement patterns of painted buntings. As the birds readily visit bird feeders, researchers recruit volunteers to observe these devices and report sightings of banded (color-marked) birds. A painted bunting banded in North Carolina has been wintering at a backyard bird feeder in Stuart, Florida for several years. The observations of this bird and others provide important information on migration patterns and winter range. To learn more about the project or become a member of the Painted Bunting Observer Team, visit www.paintedbuntings.org.