When I first started to become interested in photography and birds, the following pictures serve as an example of what I could achieve with my lens and camera at that time. I would bird on foot and with a little luck I would find a male in the relative open around my neighborhood.
On one occasion I even found a painted bunting feeding on seed from recently mowed grass.
All this did was whet my appetite for getting even closer to this beautiful bird that to me looks like it rolled around on a painter's palette. Living in Texas, I am fortunate that there are private ranches dedicated to the conservation of land and to bird photography. Over the years, I have been able to visit ranches in the Lower Rio Grande Valley and in the Texas Hill Country, pursuing this colorful bird. These ranches have blinds much like you would see on a ranch dedicated to hunting deer; however, the only thing that is shot on these ranches, for the most part, are pictures. The blinds are established in areas where wildlife congregates. The ranch owners have carefully managed these areas to attract the wildlife with feed, seed and water. These ranches also provide photographers with guides to help you locate the birds and create pleasing perches.
One of the first ranches I visited was the Javelina Ranch near Mission, Texas. While on the ranch, I was able to capture images of this male painted bunting bathing. It was a thrill to see it. Considering how hot and humid it can be in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, if I were a bird I would hang out close to these water features as well.
On a different ranch, the Laguna Seca Ranch near Linn, Texas, I was able to obtain these fine images as the buntings were once again attracted to the water features on this ranch.
A flurry of wing-flapping before taking off
And then of course more bathing
I had mentioned earlier that these are shy birds. Here is an example of one shy painted bunting from the Texas Hill Country and the Block Creek Natural Area, another privately owned ranch.
As luck would have it, a male painted bunting, possibly the same one as above, provided me with a nice perch for brief few seconds on this day too.
But the painted buntings' territory extends into West Texas too and you do not need to visit a private ranch to see one. The Davis Mountains State Park in Fort Davis, Texas is a fantastic place to see a wide variety of birds including the painted bunting. Here are a few images from this location.
I have seen many painted buntings since I became interested in birding in 2005, but each time I see one I get just as excited as the first time. These are truly impressive birds. The colors are amazingly vivid, some would say gaudy. The IUCN status of this bird is near threatened due to habitat loss. We need to do what we can to conserve its habitat. I hate to think of a day when this gorgeous bird can not be found.