Georgia Wild E-Newsletter


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Your money at work: Survey colors in picture on painted bunting distribution

Painted buntings are small yet striking multi-colored songbirds with a critical connection to scrub/shrub, maritime forest and salt marsh habitats along Georgias coast. The Southeastern population, one of two populations that exist in North America, breeds along the Southeastern seaboard from North Carolina to Florida.

Data since 1965 shows painted buntings populations in a steady decline. Habitat loss, cowbird parasitism and the introduction of non-native species such as house cats compound pet trade impacts the birds face in their Latin American and Caribbean wintering grounds.

After a pilot survey in 2007 with Georgia Wildlife Resources Division partners in Florida and the Carolinas, Wildlife Resources again surveyed the species distribution, habitat preferences and breeding densities this spring.

Preliminary observations from routes run mostly by seasonal biologist Chris Depkin and dedicated volunteers showed expected occurrences on barrier islands and along the coast, where concentrations lead the southeast. But the unexpected included the extent of inland distribution of painted buntings along the Savannah River drainage, as well as the particular types of habitat used by singing males.

Results from the Eastern Painted Bunting Population Assessment and Monitoring Project (www.pwrc.usgs.gov/point/pabu/) will increase understanding of the role habitat types play and give landowners and wildlife managers better tools and information to enhance or create breeding area for this species. The hope is to continue the survey in tandem with the Carolinas, Florida and the U.S. Geological Survey in 2009.

Coastal nongame program manager Brad Winn said the painted bunting is a high-profile species the public recognizes & and there are indications of local losses with declines in habitat.

Georgia's survey portion is partly funded through the sale of nongame wildlife license plates -- the bald eagle and hummingbird plates -- and donations to the Give Wildlife a Chance income tax checkoff.


Georgia Wild E-Newsletter

September 2008





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