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Varied Bunting - BirdForum Opus

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Male, Nominate
Photo by Plankwing
Martin Refuge, Edinburg, Texas, May 2010
Passerina versicolor



  • Dark purple plumage
  • Dark blue head and rump
  • Dark red nape
  • Blackish wings and tail
  • Black around base of bill

Adult female: brown plumage, paler below
Immature similar to adult female

Photo by blubird
Mazatlan, Mexico, March 2008

Similar Species

The Lazuli Bunting has wing bars and a smaller bill, while the Indigo Bunting has faint wing bars and faint streaking on the breast, as well as a bill with a straighter top margin (culmen). Painted Bunting has similar structure to the Varied, but the Painted female is greenish rather than brown.


North and Central America: ranges from south-eastern Arizona and southern Texas south to Guatemala, including much of Mexico.



Photo by Glen Tepke
Sierra El Tuito, Jalisco, Mexico, January 2008

This is a polytypic species consisting of four subspecies:

  • P. v. dickeyae:
  • Southern Arizona to western Mexico (Sonora to western Durango, Jalisco and Colima)
  • P. v. versicolor:
  • Southern Texas to southern Mexico (Oaxaca and Guerrero)
  • P. v. pulchra:
  • P. v. purpurascens:
  • Southern Mexico (Chiapas) to central Guatemala


Tropical dry forest, desert scrub, desert canyons, thorn-scrub, and riparian edge habitats.



The diet includes insects and seeds.


It builds an open cup nest low to the ground in scrub; the clutch consists of 3-4 eggs. They are incubated for about 12 days and the young fledge after a further 12-14 days.


  1. Clements, JF. 2011. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to August 2011. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019. Spreadsheet available at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/downloadable-clements-checklist
  2. BF Member observations

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