Normally my backyard Painted Buntings are the stars of this blog at this time of year. But this year, with Zippy the Ruby-throated Hummingbird growing up right in front of my camera lens, the Painted Buntings have gotten less attention. So they told me I had to write a post just about them.
This first photo was taken on the day after I trimmed my crape myrtle bush. The next morning, the birds flew in to find their favorite perches gone. So what did they do? Sat on the ugly clipped branches instead! Note to self: position a prettier perch in this location on the next cloudy morning when I can shoot in this direction.
This year we’ve had an unusually high number of male buntings. At one point I counted 6 males on/around the feeder at the same time. I wish I’d had my camera handy that day! As much as I love the bright-colored males, I find myself drawn to photographing the female/juvie “greenies” too. They are quite pretty in their own right.
People often ask me how to attract Painted Buntings to their backyards. I’m no expert, but I do know my backyard offers them several attractive options:
- Millet seed at a caged feeder where they are protected from predators
- A birdbath with fresh water, cleaned regularly, and with a dripper because birds love the sound of dripping water
- A viburnum hedge “fence” to give them shelter
- Native plants and seeds. They love the red salvia plants pictured above and below. Note the seed in the greenie’s mouth.
Typically my Painted Buntings arrive in early October. Males start to leave around the first week of April. The females stay a few weeks longer, usually until Earth Day. The yard feels so empty once they go. I still have a few good weeks with them, as they tend to be the most active when they eat up to prepare for migration. So maybe you’ll see more of these beautiful birds this spring! :)