Friday, January 8, 2010

Painted Bunting Observer Team Needs Volunteers

The Painted Bunting Observer Team (PBOT) Project at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) needs your assistance with these brightly colored migratory birds. The team is looking for volunteers to help with a research study in Florida to develop strategies to bring the bird’s population up to healthy and sustainable levels.

“Although past data from the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) show that painted bunting populations were declining for 30 years, more recent data, along with detailed monitoring, indicate that these birds appear to be on the rebound,” said Dr. Jamie Rotenberg, ornithologist in the Department of Environmental Studies at UNCW. “Still, the good news is tempered by uncertainty surrounding the causes for the recent rebound or whether the population is doing well on both the breeding and wintering grounds.”

“Florida is unique in that it is the only one of the four eastern breeding ground states that also supports a wintering population of painted buntings,” Delany said. In Florida, the team wants to recruit and maintain an active group of volunteers who can make observations and collect data at backyard bird feeders and can help band and monitor banded buntings, especially during the winter months.

“We hope to determine the abundance and distribution of painted buntings at backyard feeders and to detect population patterns across the coastal-inland and suburban-rural landscapes,” Rotenberg said. “We want to know if there are differences in how males and females use feeders and how important these backyard feeders are as a food resource. Already, just from last year’s data, we may be seeing a winter-range expansion for painted buntings in Florida, possibly because of backyard feeders. Ultimately, we want to find out why the species was in decline and pinpoint what is causing the new increase.” Since painted buntings readily visit backyard bird feeders, volunteers can easily participate in gathering a variety of data that can aid the project in comparing populations breeding in suburban, rural and natural habitats, from the coast to more inland areas.

The dates and locations of the workshops are being finalized, according to Rotenberg. For updates about the workshops in Florida or to become a Painted Bunting Observer Team volunteer and learn more about this project, please sign up on the project site: or email the project coordinator at

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