Varied Bunting – Accepted

1. 08 Feb 1914

ASY female

vic. Blythe RIV



LACM 10189

2. 09 Feb 1914

ASY male

vic. Blythe RIV



LACM 10190

3. 18–21 Nov 1977

AHY male

Mesquite Spring INY



ph., AB 32:264, Roberson (1978, 1980)


Varied Bunting – Not accepted, identification not established

21–23 Apr 1996


Lancaster LA




12 May 2001


Salton Sea NWR IMP





Varied Bunting – Not submitted

early Feb 1914


vic. Blythe RIV



Daggett (1914), see table entries 1, 2

? April 1956


Cottonwood Springs RIV



Pyle & Small (1961)

07 Aug 1966


Arcadia LA



Garrett & Dunn (1981)






Varied Bunting

VARIED BUNTING Passerina versicolor (Bonaparte, 1838)

Accepted: 3 (60%)

Treated in Appendix H: no

Not accepted: 2

CBRC review: all records

Not submitted/reviewed: 16+

Color image: none

This bunting’s western subspecies, P. v. pulchra (including P. v. dickeyae per Monson and Phillips 1981), breeds in southern Baja California Sur and from central southern Arizona and extreme southwestern New Mexico south along the Pacific slope of Mexico to Colima. Subspecies versicolor breeds locally in southeastern New Mexico and from western and southern Texas south through central and eastern Mexico to Oaxaca. Localized resident populations in Chiapas and Guatemala represent the doubtfully valid P. v. purpurascens (Groschupf and Thompson 1998 citing Hellmayr 1938). Birds that breed in the United States and on the Mexican Plateau winter to the south. Vagrants have been reported in west-central Arizona and west-central New Mexico (Groschupf and Thompson 1998), northern and eastern Texas (Lockwood and Freeman 2004), Louisiana (NAB 56:448), Florida (NAB 59:587), and northern Baja California Sur. The remarkable 7 May 1995 record of a female or first-spring male photographed in hand at Long Point, Ontario (Prior 1995, Dobos 1996), shines fresh light on the record of an adult male collected on 18 May 1874 at Locke in south-central Michigan. The latter was treated as hypothetical by Barrows (1912) based on his belief that such a bird could not reach Michigan unassisted. The specimen was sent to Robert Ridgway for confirmation, but after some years the specimen was lost (fide A. Wormington). Ridgway (1901) listed the collection date as 15 May 1875.

An adult female Varied Bunting collected on 8 February 1914 near Blythe in Riverside County and an adult male collected in the same area on the following day furnished California’s first records of this species. These birds, of the expected subspecies, pulchra, were reportedly taken from among 15–20 Varied Buntings encountered “at different times . . . feeding on roadside weeds bordering a cotton field,” possibly including dates before or after the dates of collection (Daggett 1914). Nearly a century later, this occurrence stands out as considerably more anomalous than it must have seemed at the time.

The state’s only other accepted record is of an adult male present 18–21 November 1977 at Mesquite Springs in Inyo County. This record conforms to the late-fall pattern of westward and northward vagrancy exhibited by several other “Mexican” species (e.g., the Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Thick-billed Kingbird, Rufous-backed Robin, and Streak-backed Oriole).