Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2007-17a

Common name:

Painted Bunting

Scientific name: Passerina ciris
Date: 7/25/07
Time: ~6:15-8:15PM
Length of time observed:  ~2 hours
Number: 1
Age: adult
Sex: male
Location: Fish Springs NWR picnic area
County: Juab County
Elevation:  ~4250ft
Distance to bird:  varied between 15-100ft
Optical equipment: B&L Elites
Weather: Temp in upper 70's...had rained...mostly cloudy...sun stayed behind clouds for most of the observation
Light Conditions: Varied, but pretty good for the most part
Description:        Size of bird: Finch/bunting size
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Bunting
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Blue, lime-green and red
(Description:)            Bill Type: Seed eating bill
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
I had good views of the legs on multiple occasions, and I saw no evidence of bands. The tail definitely had significant wear because many of the tail feathers appeared to be frayed at the end.
However, I just did some banding up in the Tetons this past weekend, and this bird's tail feathers did not appear anymore worn than other species that were just beginning to molt their tails so I'm not sure the tail is a positive or negative...maybe someone can check Pyle on the timing of tail molt in Painted Buntings? I saw no obvious signs of wear on any of the flight feathers though. The back, head and underside were all very crisp, clean and the expected colors except the undertail covert feathers were red with some lighter feathers mixed in. I think this  can be seen in a photo I took.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: No definitive calls were heard.
Behavior: The bird actively foraged low in the cottonwoods and on the ground. It did occasionally move up high in the trees and even flycatched once. The bird did not respond to pishing (mine at least). The bird also actively dipped its tail when perched, which can be seen in a video I took. The bird was less tame and more skittish than the Scarlet Tanager.
Habitat: Open dirt to low vegetation to live and dead cottonwood trees
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Lazuli Bunting - doesn't have a lime-green back and red on the belly
Indigo Bunting - doesn't have a lime-green back and red on the belly
Varied Bunting - doesn't have a lime-green back
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Only observed one previously in Florida ~ 15 years prior
References consulted: None
Description from: Notes made later
Observer: Colby Neuman
Observer's address: 139 S 1200 E Apt #1 Salt Lake City, UT 84102
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Matt Mills and Randy Larsen - the original observers - were not present at the time of my observation
Date prepared:  7/26/07
Additional material: (Photos downloaded from the internet)

A YouTube Video
"... showing the painted bunting tail dipping behavior..."

Additional Comments: One of the main reasons I went out to Fish Springs was that I don't see a much better candidate for a first state record. The date may seem surprising to some, but Painted Buntings, particularly males, frequently disperse into southern Arizona beginning around this time. By mid-August, there are usually several birds being seen around SE AZ. At least this is what I've noticed over the past couple of years. Admittedly, this is on the early side of that time frame, and I would have liked
the bird to show up in extreme southern Utah, but I don't think a bird showing up in a migrant trap in the West Desert is that unreasonable. Also, the weather of the past 3 days has been more southern Arizona like than we've had in a long time. Not to mention, much of this airmass likely originated from our south or even southeast.

That is just about everything I posted to birdnet...