Varied Bunting (Passerina versicolor)

Varied Bunting

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Cardinalidae | [latin] Passerina versicolor | [UK] Varied Bunting | [FR] Pape multicolore | [DE] Vielfarben-Fink | [ES] Gorrion morado | [NL] Veelkleurengors


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Passerina versicolor NA, MA w USA to Guatemala
Passerina versicolor dickeyae
Passerina versicolor pulchra
Passerina versicolor purpurascens
Passerina versicolor versicolor

Physical charateristics

Male: A small dark finchlike bird with a plum purple body (looks black at a distance). Crown, face, and rump blue, with a bright red patch on the nape; “colored like an Easter egg.”
b Female: A small, plain gray-brown bird with lighter underparts. No strong wing bars, stripes, or distinctive marks of any kind.

Listen to the sound of Varied Bunting

[audio: Bunting.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 19 cm wingspan max.: 23 cm
size min.: 11 cm size max.: 14 cm
incubation min.: 12 days incubation max.: 14 days
fledging min.: 10 days fledging max.: 11 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 5  


North America, Middle America : West USA to Guatemala


Streamside thickets, brush. In United States found mostly in areas of dense thorny brush, often with an upper story of scattered trees. Prime habitat is usually in canyons and along streams, but in some a
reas may be in flat desert away from water if brush is dense.


Nests mostly in late summer in Arizona (after summer rains begin), in early summer in Texas. Male defends territory with song and with fluttering flight display directed at intruding males.
Nest: Site is in dense shrub, low tree, or vine, usually 2-5′ above ground, sometimes up to 12′. Nest (built by both parents) is compact open cup, mostly of dry grass and weeds, lined with finer materials.
Eggs: 4, sometimes 3, rarely 5. White to bluish white, unmarked. Incubation is by female only, about 12-13 days.
Fed by both parents, leaving nest after about 12 days. For a few days after fledging, brood may split, 2 young going with female and 2 with male; then male may take over care of all young while female starts another nesting attempt. Often 2 broods per ye
ar, perhaps sometimes 3.

Feeding habits

Probably seeds and insects.
Diet poorly known. In breeding season probably feeds mostly on insects, also some seeds, berries. Food brought to young at nest is mostly insects. Winter diet probably includes more seeds.
Behavior: forages at various levels from ground up into shrubs and trees. Probably takes insects from leaves, seeds from ground or stems, berries from shrubs. Forages alone in summer, but may gather in small flocks in winter.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Varied Bunting status Least Concern


Breeds southwestern United States to Guatemala. Winters from northern Mexico south. Migration: Most leave the United States in winter, probably moving only a short distance south into Mexico. Recently d
iscovered wintering in small numbers in Big Bend region of Texas.

Distribution map

Varied Bunting distribution range map

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