I was out refilling bird feeders this morning when I noticed a new little bird hopping around in the rosebed. At first it was in shadow, and I assumed it was a migrating warbler. Then it moved into the light and I realized it had a green cast. “No, it can’t be!” I thought as I quietly backed off to get the camera.
My telephoto lens confirmed my suspicion: we had a painted bunting in the backyard! At first glance it looks like a female, but upon closer inspection I noticed blue highlights, and I realized I had a juvenile bird just beginning to molt into his adult plumage. Poor thing, he was hungry, and he hung around at the feeder for most of the morning. The grackles kept chasing him off (piggies!) It’s ironic that the bunting was feasting on the wild bird seed, the cheap stuff that I buy to feed the piggies. But it makes sense, since the buntings like millet. He was a friendly little thing and posed for my camera for a long time. Thanks, little guy. Please stick around, and come back next year when you have your full adult color!
We don’t live that far away from Oakland Nature Preserve, which has had painted buntings visiting annually for a long time. But I never expected to see one of these guys in my own backyard, especially in a subdivision like Stoneybrook West. I guess the guy at Bok Tower did say that the buntings had come to Bok for the first time last year. Maybe they are starting to winter more in our area. That would be fine with me!