Family Cardinals (Cardinalidae)

Least Concern

Varied Bunting (Passerina versicolor)


Taxonomy

French: Passerin varié German: Vielfarbenfink Spanish: Azulillo morado
Taxonomy:

Spiza versicolor

Bonaparte

, 1838,

near Temascaltepec, Mexico

.

Has hybridized with P. ciris. Races dickeyae, pulchra and purpurascens all suggested by various authorities as being too weakly differentiated to be tenable. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. v. dickeyae van Rossem, 1934 – S USA (C & S Arizona, S New Mexico) and W Mexico (Sonora and WC Chihuahua S to Colima); N populations migrate to S of range.
  • P. v. versicolor (Bonaparte, 1838) – S USA (SE New Mexico; S Texas from Big Bend to Rio Grande Valley) and S through C Mexico to Oaxaca; N populations migrate to S of range.
  • P. v. pulchra Ridgway, 1887 – S Baja California (Mexico).
  • P. v. purpurascens Griscom, 1930 – S Mexico (Chiapas) and S Guatemala (Motagua Valley).
  • Descriptive notes

    11–14 cm; male average 13 g, female average 12·8 g. Male nominate race has forehead and area between bill and eye down to chin blackish, crown bright violet-blue... read more

    Voice

    Song a rich series of short, rapidly repeated phrases or syllables, lasting for 3–6 seconds;... read more

    Habitat

    Dry scrubland, thorn-scrub, acacia (Acacia) thickets and similar; in Mexico found in... read more

    Food and feeding

    In summer, mixed animal and vegetable diet. Invertebrate prey includes caterpillars, small grasshoppers (Orthoptera), beetles (Coleoptera... read more

    Breeding

    Season mid-Apr to mid-Jul; said to be single-brooded in S Arizona, but in Texas apparently double-brooded. Male strongly philopatric. Pair-... read more

    Movements

    Sedentary in S of range, although some of those breeding in S Baja California (race pulchra... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Classified as “Declining” in USA (Yellow WatchList priority species for conservation). Locally common to uncommon. Has decreased in some parts of... read more

    Recommended citation

    Brewer, D. (2019). Varied Bunting (Passerina versicolor). 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 https://www.hbw.com/node/62217 on 20 August 2019).