Nature’s Work of Art

Painted Buntings are some of the most beautiful birds you can find here in the Gardens. The very fitting French name for this species is nonpareil, meaning without equal.

The rainbow colors of the males are stunning and truly one-of-a-kind, and the lime-green of the females and young males is more subtle but unique and lovely. Painted Buntings are migratory and travel to Lake Wales for the winter months, from December through March. They then migrate back to North Florida, Georgia, and the coastal areas of the Carolinas for the spring and summer breeding seasons.

The best place to catch a glimpse of these birds is on the benches near the Window by the Pond, as they prefer brushy areas and woodland edges. They can be somewhat timid birds. Predators can easily spot their bright colors, so they try to stay safe by staying low and under cover of leaves and branches. However, they will gain some trust if you are quiet and calm, allowing them to feel comfortable to venture out in the open to eat. Studies have shown that adult birds return to the same area each year when migrating, so there is a good chance you are seeing the same Painted Buntings each year!

Painted buntings face threats to their population from various sources, from rapid habitat loss to window collisions, trapping, and cowbird parasitism. There is hope that through banding studies, biologists can identify the most significant threats to focus conservation efforts in the most critical areas. Bok Tower Gardens is home to more than 120 other species of birds and acts as a winter sanctuary for many. The Gardens are an important place of respite for wildlife and humans.

The best way to attract these beautiful birds is to offer plenty of dense, low bushes and native grasses for protection and shelter, then place a feeder within 30 feet of this cover. Buntings primarily eat seeds and specifically love millet. Planting additional native plants for them to feed on and a shallow water source can help, too.

Article and photos by Keith Novosel, Digital Content Creator, Bok Tower Gardens.

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