Bird watchers are flocking to Pittsfield, Vermont as news spreads of a male Painted Bunting visiting feeders at several residences there. This represents the sixth state record for the species according to the Vermont Bird Records Committee (VBRC). The first accepted report by the VBRC was submitted by Karl & Winifred Droge. They described a pair in Danby on 11-13 May 1993. The first record with a photograph was by Susan Klein in Shelburne on 6 May 1997. Three additional reports have since been accepted by the committee. A complete map of records can be viewed on Vermont eBird, a project of the Vermont Atlas of Life.
Unfortunately, the bird seems to have an injured or deformed foot. A similar individual wintered in Connecticut for several years with a similarly deformed foot. This bird disappeared around March 14. The bird in Pittsfield was first discovered on March 16, leading to speculation that this might actually be the bird from Connecticut. However, the Connecticut bird was back at its feeder yesterday.
A relatively common finch, Painted Buntings breed in the coastal Southeast and in the south-central U.S., where they often come to feeders. They are caught and sold illegally as cage birds, particularly in Mexico and the Caribbean, a practice that puts pressure on their breeding populations.