|Conservation status||Still locally common in southwestern United States, although some habitat has been lost. Probably declining in parts of its Mexican range, as overgrazing (especially by goats) degrades its habitat.|
|Family||Cardinals, Grosbeaks and Buntings|
|Habitat||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 areas may be in flat desert away from water if brush is dense.|
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.
4, sometimes 3, rarely 5. White to bluish-white, unmarked. Incubation is by female only, about 12-13 days. Young: 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 year, perhaps sometimes 3.
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 year, perhaps sometimes 3.
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.
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.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Most leave the United States in winter, probably moving only a short distance south into Mexico. Recently discovered wintering in small numbers in Big Bend region of Texas.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsA series of sweet notes, each note or phrase repeated.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Varied Bunting
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Climate threats facing the Varied Bunting
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