Along with a host of other bird species, Painted Buntings migrate south to warmer habitats during our winter months. Yesterday, however, Merrill Robling documented a male Painted Bunting feeding in their Summerville backyard. According to Audubon South Carolina's Director of Bird Conservation Jeff Mollenhauer, "There is a small percentage of Painted Buntings that remain in South Carolina during the winter. This photo is of an adult male though many of the Painted Buntings that remain in South Carolina during the winter are immature males. It is hard to say for sure why they stay. These may be birds that were not able to migrate or they may be playing the odds. If they are able to survive the winter, then they will have first pick of territories in the spring. Big risk, but also a big payoff."
Don't forget that the Great Backyard Bird Count will be held February 13-16. By participating and reporting all the birds that you see, you can help scientist "see" where birds are during this winter snapshot, which can lead to answers to questions like, "Why are Painted Buntings still here?"
Images by Don Wuori and Merrill Robling (at feeder)