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What is the bright orange bird in mexico?

Mexico is home to a diverse array of bird species, both native and migratory. One striking bird that stands out for its vibrant plumage is the orange-breasted bunting. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at this beautiful bird, including its identification, range, habitat, diet, and conservation status.

With its bright orange breast and belly contrasting sharply with a turquoise back and head, the orange-breasted bunting is easy to spot as it flits through trees and scrublands. This medium-sized songbird breeds across the southwestern United States and northern Mexico before migrating to wintering grounds along Mexico’s Pacific coast. Let’s learn more about this eye-catching bird!


To identify an orange-breasted bunting, look for the following key characteristics:

  • Size: 6 inches in length with a 9 inch wingspan
  • Bill: Short, conical, and dark in color
  • Plumage:
    • Males have a bright orange breast and belly, turquoise back and head, with some green on the wings and tail
    • Females are duller overall with a pale orange wash on the underparts and greyish upperparts
  • Song: A melodic warbling

The orange breast is what gives this species its name and distinguishes it from other similar bunting species. The coloring is especially vibrant on the males during the breeding season.


The orange-breasted bunting has a relatively small range confined to parts of the southwestern United States and Mexico. Here are the details on its breeding and wintering ranges:

  • Breeding range: Spends summers and breeds in Arizona, New Mexico, southwestern Texas, and northern Mexico
  • Wintering range: Winters along Mexico’s Pacific coast from Sonora to Oaxaca

This species migrates between these two range areas, traveling over 1,000 miles between its breeding and wintering grounds. The winter range is mostly restricted to coastal scrub habitat along the Pacific Ocean.


During the breeding season, orange-breasted buntings primarily inhabit arid, open shrublands with scattered trees. Typical habitat includes:

  • Chaparral
  • Mesquite scrublands
  • Woodland edges
  • Riparian corridors

In these areas, they are often found close to the ground, hidden in low, dense vegetation. On migration and in their winter range, they also occupy agricultural areas, pastures, and weedy fields.


Orange-breasted buntings are primarily seed eaters, though they supplement their diet with insects when feeding young. Their diet consists of:

  • Seeds from grasses, weeds, agricultural crops
  • Grains such as millet, wheat
  • Berries
  • Insects like grasshoppers, beetles, ants, during breeding season

They use their conical bill to crack open seeds and consume them. Though they sometimes forage in flocks, especially in migration or winter, they are generally solitary feeders. Parents bring a diet of insects to nestlings.

Breeding and Nesting

Orange-breasted buntings breed between April and August across the southwestern US and northern Mexico. Here are some key facts about their breeding and nesting ecology:

  • Nest: Cup nest built low in a bush or small tree, 2-6 feet above ground
  • Clutch: 3-5 eggs per clutch
  • Incubation: By female only, for 11-13 days
  • Fledging: Nestlings fledge from nest at 9-12 days old
  • Broods: Produce 1-2 broods per breeding season

Nesting duties are shared between both parents. Males help build the nest, incubate eggs, and bring food to nestlings. These buntings are frequently parasitized by brown-headed cowbirds, who lay eggs in their nests.


Orange-breasted buntings are long-distance neotropical migrants, traveling between their northern breeding areas and wintering grounds in Mexico. Here are some key facts about their migration:

  • Spring migration: March to May
  • Fall migration: August to October
  • Travel over 1,000 miles between range areas
  • Use stopover sites to rest and refuel along migration routes

They migrate and forage in flocks during migration, which likely provides safety from predators. Migration routes and timing may be genetically programmed in these birds.

Conservation Status

Though still a common species in parts of its range, orange-breasted bunting populations have declined in recent decades. The species is classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List. Threats and conservation concerns include:

  • Habitat loss on wintering grounds in Mexico
  • Habitat degradation from grazing and fire suppression
  • Climate change disrupting migration timing and breeding
  • Parasitism by brown-headed cowbirds

Maintaining suitable breeding habitat and protected wintering areas will be important for the long-term conservation of this vibrant songbird. Responsible grazing practices and control of brown-headed cowbird populations may also promote orange-breasted bunting numbers.


With its explosively bright orange and turquoise plumage, the orange-breasted bunting is a real jewel of Mexico’s avifauna. This migratory songbird relies on a variety of arid habitat types across its range and faces threats from climate and land use changes. Protecting its scrubland breeding areas and coastal wintering grounds will give this beautiful bunting the best chance at long-term survival. The next time you see a flash of orange during a birding trip to Mexico, take a closer look – it just might be an orange-breasted bunting!