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Rainbow Birds: BirdSpotter Judges’ Alternative Winner

March 5, 2021

| Painted Bunting by Andrew Mills|

Our eighth and final BirdSpotter category of the 2020-2021 season finished up yesterday on March 4. The theme for Category 8 was Rainbow Birds, and our gallery didn’t disappoint! Folks submitted colorful birds from across the spectrum. Our Judges’ Choice winner for Category 8 is Andrew Mills, for this bright and cheery Painted Bunting that he was lucky enough to find in Washington, DC this past January. Andrew says:

This Painted Bunting strayed from his usual winter grounds and found his way up to Washington D.C., becoming a local celebrity and drawing bird watchers from around the region. He was pretty reliably seen foraging on certain areas of the tow path and nearby trails. This photo was taken in a light snow at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, Great Falls National Park in Maryland…It took about four hours for him to get comfortable, and [for me to get] close enough to get this image, but I’m glad I stayed for this once-in-a-lifetime sighting!

Painted Buntings typically spend their time in the southern US during breeding season and in Mexico, the Caribbean Islands, and Central America for the winter, so a sighting in Washington, DC is certainly uncommon! These brightly colored birds eat both seeds and insects. They are most likely to visit feeders in a yards with low, dense vegetation, but you can also find them in more natural areas hiding in weedy fields or shrubby, dense edge habitat. Your search will be well worth the effort!

Submissions are now closed for BirdSpotter. Thank you to all who participated this season by entering a photo, or by voting! All 16 biweekly People’s Choice and Judges’ Choice winners will now vie for the top spots in the Grand Prize Contest starting next Monday, March 8. Winners receive prizes from the Cornell Lab and our sponsor, Wild Birds Unlimited. Anyone can participate by voting for their favorites and helping us crown the top three! Find out more about the BirdSpotter contest.

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