Wild Guide

By |
From Missouri Conservationist: July 2017

Painted Bunting | Passerina ciris

Birds as beautiful as this can make birding an addiction! Grab your binoculars and visit the tangles and thickets in southwestern Missouri. It’s worth a special trip just to see one. Try looking in the shrubby growth along lakes, just above the high-water mark. Bull Shoals Lake is a good place to start. Also look for them in thickets on glades and in old pastures. Once you find the appropriate habitat, you’re sure to see one.


Not abundant anywhere in the state. As summer residents, rare in southwest Missouri, and accidental elsewhere. As migrants, accidental. Internationally, they are ranked as near threatened.


51/2 inches (length)


Southwest Missouri


The basic diet includes seeds, especially grass seeds and seeds of pigweed, spurges, St. John’s-worts, docks, roses, and more. Like many other bird species, they eat many more insects during summer breeding season, when the growing young need extra protein.

Life Cycle

A painted bunting can live for at least 12 years. They are found in Missouri May–September, then they migrate to southern Mexico or Central America for the winter. The female builds a cup nest of plant stems, leaves, and other materials, bound together with spider webbing, usually fixing it on a shrub or other fairly low plant.

Ecosystem Connections

Birds that migrate play a role in every region they pass through. This species helps limit insect populations in its breeding territory.

Did You Know?

This species is trapped in large numbers in many parts of its range and sold as a cage bird, even though international laws ban the sale of wild-caught birds. Male painted buntings, especially, are targeted, and in Florida the species has declined as a result.

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Bonnie Chasteen

Staff Writer - Larry Archer
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek

Creative Director - Stephanie Thurber

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler