Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2007-17

Common name:

Painted Bunting

Scientific name: Passerina ciris
Date: July 24-25
Time: 8:30-8:40pm, 10:30-10:35 am
Length of time observed:  ~15 minutes
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Sex: Male
Location: Thomas Ranch picnic area, Fish Springs NWR
County:  Juab
Latilong: 9
Elevation: About 4300 feet
Distance to bird: <30 feet.
Optical equipment: Binoculars
Weather: 24th: Overcast, light rain, windy. 25th: Calm, sunny, warm.
Light Conditions: 24th: Fading light. 25th: Bright.
Description:        Size of bird: Sparrow sized.
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Plump, big-headed, copmact, tail not very long.
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Bright!
(Description:)            Bill Type: Stubby.
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
The size and shape identified it as a passerine and the bill was stubby and finch or bunting-like. However, the most noticeable traits were the colours. First seen from below, the red on a bird
of this size and shape quickly narrowed the field. When the bird hopped down lower the bright lime green on the back and darker bluish-purple head were immediately noticeable and eliminated all other species but Painted Bunting. The wings appeared dark reddish, or brownish and seemed to vary in colour in the sun. Later as we more closely observed the bird we could see some red around the eye.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: The bird was never seen to vocalize, some high "seet" notes were heard from the tree, but other birds were present, and I'm not familiar with the call notes of Painted Bunting.
Behavior: The bird was first seen high in a cottonwood moving about slowly (painfully slowly at first when all I could see was red from below). But later was seen feeding on the ground around the picnic area and moving about very low in the trees.
Habitat: A small stand of trees near a large wetland complex, surrounded by desert. There is also a picnic area here.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Nothing is similar with a clear look at this bird.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
 I had seen one Painted Bunting previously, at a bird feeder in Ontario, Canada (also a stray).
References consulted: Sibley Field Guide.
Description from: From memory
Observer: Matthew Mills
Observer's address: 1565 N. University Ave. #30, Provo, UT 84604
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Randy Larsen, Aaron Robinson. The bird was also later seen and photographed by Colby Neuman.
Date prepared: July 27th [2007]
Additional material: Photos
Additional Comments: 2 Photos have been sent in to the webmaster of Utah Birds (Milt Moody) and are posted online