Yes, you read that right!  We have heard from friends all over the state – from Amelia Island in the northeast all the way south to Miami – all spotting males, and a few greenies, arriving as early as the first week of August!  Because the males are often the first to leave on migration (to defend their breeding territory in the spring and summer, and because they are off fledgling-care duty in the early fall), you are likely to spot them arriving at the feeder first – sometimes weeks before the green females and young birds appear.  I recently experienced this during a week- Read more »

Enjoying banding sessions in NC

After having gone to a few banding sessions, I'm loving it.  We band the unbanded birds with new bands, 2 on each leg, and record the already-banded birds into data sheets.  Everyone's houses I've gone to to band have been so welcoming and nice, it was a lot of fun!  We recently did a banding session at Fort Fisher Aquarium, and we caught so many, it was great practice!  I hope to do more banding sessions soon, those are my favorite.

40 birds in 5 hours! The hectic day of a late-summer bander...

Today was a great banding day! Heather, Chelsea, and I went to the Aquarium at Fort Fisher with the hopes of banding (maybe) 10 birds – we ended up banding over 20 and recapturing about the same amount! That’s over 40 birds in 5 hours! That’s definitely a record for our sites here in NC. For the first few hours, I was the “runner”, the person who gets the birds from the traps and puts them in individual bags while Chelsea and Heather worked on banding and recording. Read more »

A slow day for buntings, but not for one of their biggest threats!

Today was a really slow day in terms of catching Buntings. We only caught 3 total- 2 new and 1 recapture- but I did the measurements and bands for all three of them. I am completely comfortable now with banding, and I feel like I would be able to do it alone if I was allowed to. The only complaint I had about today was that there were stray cats all over the place and we had to scare them off about every 15 or so minutes!

Getting comfortable with (and during!) banding

After completing 3 banding sessions in 2 days, I’m wiped!  I have been joining Liz to practice my banding skills and it’s getting easier and easier each time.  We only caught a couple birds at each site, but I still learned a lot.  I’m just about able to assess and band a bird entirely by myself!  Also, the homeowners at the sites were amazing!  It’s such a bonus to have homeowners offer us food and drinks during our 5 hour shifts.  In case we don’t say it enough, we really appreciate your hospitality!

My Painted Bunting experience so far...

I had no idea what to expect when I started this internship, but I was excited. I bought a lawn chair at Walmart and took it out to Carolina Beach State Park and Fort Fisher Airforce Recreation Center to observe. My observations so far at the State Park have gone very well, I’ve noticed mostly male birds with a few green birds. I tended to spend more time at the State Park than the Airforce Recreation Center because it was easier to locate the bands on the birds’ ankles from the angle I was sitting at. Read more »

Spotting new greenies at CBSP - perhaps this year's fledglings?

Today was the first day I'd gotten to the Carolina Beach State Park in about 2 weeks and what a difference those weeks have made! Normally, I see the same few birds (mostly male) and now I'm noticing a ton of green birds, some of which aren't banded.  Could this be a new generation of buntings?  Painted Buntings breed throughout the summer and into the fall, so it is definitely possible!  Hopefully, after a few more banding sessions, we will be able to band all the birds visiting this feeder so they are all accounted for. Read more »


What a busy summer for PBOT!  There have been so many exciting (and mundane) things going on, I've been too busy to blog about them!  For the first time in my years of coordinating this program, we have received several reports of nesting Painted Buntings in northern Florida – something that is recorded in the literature, but seemed to have become relatively rare in recent years.  This is great news to me and many of our Florida friends!  The Raleigh News & Observer (NC) published a great Read more »

Watching a territorial male at Carolina Beach State Park

For the past few weeks I have been watching a single male (black/pink and purple/silver) at the Carolina Beach State Park who is extremely territorial. If there's another male nearby, he'll chase him off.  It is common for male Painted Buntings to be highly territorial and aggressive toward each other. Fights will occur between males, which include pecking, beating with wings, and grappling.  He is never too far away because his "throne" sits atop a tree just across the field from the feeder. He never stops singing to defend his territory!

More public outreach than observations at Fort Fisher Aquarium

The Fort Fisher Aquarium was a tough site to watch today. On top of the fact that there was a ton of noisy visitors, the grackles and crows were chasing off all the buntings!  Even though the feeders have cages around them to keep out predators, the larger birds would swoop down and scare the feeding bunting right out! And because of this, getting band colors was difficult. However, I had fun talking to all the visitors that passed by, wondering what I was doing. Read more »