Painted Bunting Passerina ciris


Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). Therefore, it is now assessed as Least Concern.

Population justification
Partners in Flight estimate there to be 12,000,000 mature individuals in continental U.S.A. out of a global total of 14,000,000 (Rosenberg et al. 2016, Partners in Flight 2018).

Trend justification
Data from the Christmas Bird Count (CBC) (T. Meehan in litt. 2018) suggests that in North America the species may have increased since 1966, within the relevant part of its range. However, Breeding Bird Survey data suggests it has undergone a small or statistically insignificant decrease over the last three generations (c.13 years) (Sauer et al. 2017), which would not approach the threshold for Vulnerable. As CBC data may only represent a more limited proportion of the population the species is, therefore, treated here as stable.

Distribution and population

Passerina ciris occurs in two geographically disjunct populations: a western population breeding from northern Mexico to northern Texas (U.S.A) and wintering in south-west Mexico; and an eastern population breeding along the Atlantic coast from North Carolina to Florida and wintering in southern Florida and the Caribbean (Lowther et al. 1999). The species has been extirpated from parts of its range in south-west and east USA and north-east Mexico (Lowther et al. 1999, Sauer et al. 2003, NAS 2004, USFWS 2004). However, data from the Breeding Bird Survey from the continental USA suggests it has undergone only a small or statistically insignificant decrease over the last three generations (c.13 years) (Sauer et al. 2017); and Christmas Bird Count data even suggests that in the species may have increased since 1966 (T. Meehan in litt. 2018), within the relevant part of its range.


The western population breeds in scrub-brush habitat that remains largely intact, and the eastern population inhabits coastal plain agricultural land (Lowther et al. 1999).


Loss and intensification of habitat through urban development, road building and agricultural intensification, and capture for the cagebird trade had been considered the primary threats (Lowther et al. 1999, Iñigo-Elias et al. 2002, Phillips Lynch 2004), with brood-parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbird an additional potential threat. Trapping and sale in local markets occurs in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, and overseas to international markets in Europe, South America and Asia (Ramos 1982, Iñigo-Elias 1986, Iñigo-Elias et al. 2002).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
The species is monitored, but no other specific actions are known.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Tightly control any ongoing trade in the species. Develop an appropriate management strategy to reverse population declines. Develop a comprehensive conservation strategy including adaptive harvesting for populations in the Caribbean and Latin America (Iñigo-Elias 2006).


Text account compilers
Sharpe, C.J., Harding, M., Stattersfield, A., Westrip, J., Bird, J.

Wells, J., Meehan, T., Pashley, D., Butcher, G., Rosenberg, K.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Passerina ciris. Downloaded from on 24/03/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 24/03/2023.