Family Cardinals (Cardinalidae)

Least Concern

Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris)


French: Passerin nonpareil German: Papstfink Spanish: Azulillo sietecolores

Emberiza Ciris


, 1758,

South Carolina, USA


In the wild, rarely hybridizes with other members of genus; crosses with P. cyanea and P. versicolor described. In captivity has hybridized with P. cyanea and with domestic Island Canary (Serinus canaria). Races poorly differentiated but widely separated geographically, and they differ significantly in migration and moult strategies, suggesting that there is very little gene flow between them#R; they perhaps warrant treatment as two separate species; further study required. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. c. pallidior Mearns, 1911 – Western Painted Bunting – S USA (SE Kansas E to W Tennessee and Mississippi, S to C & S New Mexico and Texas) and adjacent Mexico (Chihuahua E to NW Tamaulipas); migrates to Mexico (S from C Sinaloa, S San Luis Potosí and S Tamaulipas, but absent from central highlands) and S to W Panama.
  • P. c. ciris (Linnaeus, 1758) – Eastern Painted Bunting – US Atlantic seaboard from North Carolina S to C Florida; migrates to S Florida, Bahamas and Cuba.
  • Descriptive notes

    13–14 cm; male 13·3–19 g, female 12·9–19 g (Florida). Male nominate race has head deep blue, rose-pink eyering; upperparts copper-green, rump... read more


    Only male sings. Song a series of high-pitched whistled notes, in phrases of 1–3 notes,... read more


    Areas of scattered bush, recently abandoned farmland, disused orange groves, riparian thickets;... read more

    Food and feeding

    On breeding grounds predominantly vegetable, including seeds of various grasses, sedges (Cyperaceae), some dicotyledons including spurges... read more


    Nest-building from late Mar in SW, early May to mid-May elsewhere; usually two broods, occasionally three. Mostly monogamous, but polygyny... read more


    Almost totally migratory; winters casually in extreme S Louisiana and SE Texas, otherwise breeding... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Previously considered Near Threatened. Classified as “Declining” in USA (Yellow WatchList priority species for... read more

    Recommended citation

    Brewer, D. (2019). Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 13 November 2019).