Please start sending your posts to texbirds@xxxxxxxxxxxxx About Painted Bunting with red in back.... There are two different types of 'red' color I see in the backs of male Painted Bunting. One is the maroon line where the blue head meets the green back, the other, actual red like the underparts in the green field of the back. Sibley showed the maroon line at nape/back junction, which many guides missed. It varies in width, some don't show it (younger ad. males?) and some show it broadly (older males?). Then there is the red of underparts that can be seen in the green field of the back. This seems to me to be a result of molt, as I've only seen it during the post breeding period. I've watched the area change in size and shape over a couple weeks on the same bird, first getting larger, then smaller. It looks like there is an undercoat, say like a ladies slip, of red feathers under the green back which becomes exposed when the green back feathers are being replaced. I'm guessing this is what you saw/speak of? I'd say it is normal, though not often seen or noticed. Perhaps all don't molt a big enough patch of feathers at once to expose it? I have one of these birds outside now, with nearly a square inch of solid red like the underparts, dead center in the area of lime green back feathers. It was half that size a week ago. It is in post-breeding molt. But even more interesting to me is that there are immature male Painted Buntings of at least three different plumage types their first summer. Most field guides show one type. There are the green ones that look like females to the extent you can't tell it's a male unless it sings. That is the standard imm. male (first summer) usually depicted. Then there is the type with pale salmon underparts (obviously a male) and green upperparts, and then there are the ones with brighter yellowish underparts, this type will always have some blue feathers in the head, unlike the other two types of immature males. Why three different strategies (or genetic lineages?) to the same end? Some probably have this all figured out but I am not up on the latest literature, so don't know what the deal is, besides birds being fascinating to study. Most of the color variation in the green back is a matter of lighting and wear, I doubt any subspecific attribution is a factor. Mitch Heindel Utopia Quoting David Bryant <highlandbirds@xxxxxxxxx>:
As the wild flowers and seeds have begun to dry up, I have noticed more Painted Buntings in my yard. Saturday, I saw a bird with red colors on it's back. Does anybody know if these variations indicate different sub species or are they just genetic anomalies?
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