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Painted Lark-Bunting

Painted Lark-Bunting

The definitive website on wildbirds & nature

Birds of America

By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.


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[Smith's Longspur.]

[Calcarius pictus.]


This handsome species was discovered by Dr. RICHARDSON in April 1827, on the banks of the Saskatchewan river, associated with the Lapland Longspur. Only one specimen was procured at Carlton House, which has been figured by Mr. SWAINSON in the Fauna Boreali-Americana. My own figure of this species was drawn from the same specimen, which was kindly lent to me for that purpose by the Council of the Zoological Society. That the Painted Bunting at times retires far southward, probably accompanying the Lapland Longspur, is a fact for which I can vouch, having seen one on the shores of the Mississippi in December 1820, which however I missed on wing after having viewed it about two minutes, as it lay flat on the ground.

EMBERIZA (PLECTROPHANES) PICTA, Painted Bunting, Swains. & Rich. F. Bor. Amer. vol. ii. p. 250.

PAINTED BUNTING, Nutt. Man., vol. ii. P. 589.

PAINTED BUNTING, Emberiza picta, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. v. p. 91.

Adult Male.

Bill short, conical, stout, compressed toward the end, acuminate; its outlines straight, the lower mandible a little narrower than the upper at the base; the gap-line straight, slightly deflected at the base. Nostrils basal, rounded, partly concealed by the feathers.

Head of moderate size, ovate; neck short, body compact. Feet of ordinary length; tarsus compressed, anteriorly covered with seven large scutella, sharp behind; toes of moderate size; the lateral toes equal, the hind toe stout; claws long, slightly arched, laterally grooved, compressed, very acute, that of the hind toe much elongated.

Plumage soft and blended, the feathers somewhat distinct on the back and wings. Wing long, pointed, the second quill longest, the first nearly equal; the second, third, and fourth primaries attenuated on the outer web toward the end. Tall rather long deeply emarginate.

Bill dusky, lower mandible yellow toward the base. Feet and claws reddish-brown. The upper part and sides of the head are deep black, with three bands of white on each side, one extending from the base of the upper mandible, over the eye, and along the side of the neck; another passing under the eye and over the ear; the third bordering the throat. There is also a brownish-white patch on the nape. A band across the hind neck and fore part of the back and all the lower parts buffy-orange. The feathers on the upper parts of the body blackish-brown, edged with light brown; the quills and their coverts brownish-black, edged with pale brownish-red; the first row of large coverts black, margined with white, the next two rows white, the rest of the small coverts brownish-black. The tail-feathers are brownish-black, margined with pale greyish-brown, excepting the two outer on each side, which are white, margined externally towards the tips and along the inner webs with brown.

Length to end of tail 6 2/12 inches; bill along the ridge (5 1/4)/12; wing from flexure 3 1/4; tail 2 1/4; tarsus (10 1/2)/12; hind toe (3 1/4)/12; its claw 6/12; middle toe 7/12, its claw 3/12.

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