Painted Bunting Surveys
The painted bunting is one of the most charismatic birds of the coastal region and has been identified as a species of conservation concern. From 2007 through 2009, DNR participated in a range-wide survey of breeding painted bunting along the coast and interior Coastal Plain. The survey was coordinated by the Eastern Painted Bunting Working Group, a group consisting of state agency staff in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, as well as U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff and university researchers. A targeted survey effort was warranted due to the relative paucity of Breeding Bird Survey routes in prime painted bunting habitat. Georgia DNR staff and contractors set up survey routes throughout the range of eastern painted bunting in Georgia, and coordinated monitoring during the 2007, 2008 and 2009 field seasons. The routes were run by volunteers, contractors and DNR staff.
Thirty sampling blocks were randomly selected within Georgia, and a randomly placed transect was established in each block. Each transect consisted of 12 monitoring points spaced at least 500 meters apart. Fixed radius 5-minute point counts were conducted at each point three times in a season. Georgia housed interior and coastal routes, and contributed significantly to the overall survey effort. DNR staff checked and entered all data from Georgia surveys in the online project database, and participated in the Eastern Painted Bunting Working Group meeting in fall 2009.
Study results indicate that painted bunting numbers are higher than estimated before and that the majority of the population is found in the interior portions of the Coastal Plain rather than along the coast, as previously thought. Project findings are being developed into a manuscript for publication.
(Painted bunting photo by Roy Brown.)