The southeastern United States population of the painted bunting (Passerina ciris) has decreased approximately 75% from 1966-1996 based on Breeding Bird Survey trends. Partners in Flight guidelines recommend painted bunting conservation as a high priority with a need for management by state and federal agencies. Basic information on home range and survival of breeding painted buntings will provide managers with required habitat types and estimates of land areas necessary to maintain minimum population sizes for this species. We radiotracked after-second-year male and after-hatching-year female buntings on Sapelo Island, Georgia, during the breeding seasons (late April-early August) of 1997 and 1998. We used the animal movement extension in ArcView to determine fixed-kernel home range in an unmanaged maritime shrub and managed 60-80-year-old pine (Pinus spp.)-oak Quercus spp.) forest. Using the Kaplan-Meier method, we estimated an adult breeding season survival of 1.00 for males (n = 36) and 0.94 (SE = 0.18) for females(n=27). Painted bunting home ranges were smaller in unmanaged maritime shrub (female: kernel (x) over bar = 3.5 ha [95% CI: 2.5-4.51; male: kernel (x) over bar = 3.1 ha [95% CI: 2.3-3.9]) compared to those in managed pine-oak forests (female: kernel (x) over bar = 4.7 ha [95% CI: 2.8-6.6]; male: kernel (x) over bar = 7.0 ha [95% CI: 4.9-9.1]). Buntings nesting in the managed pine-oak forest flew long distances (>= 300 m) to forage in salt marshes, freshwater wetlands, and moist forest clearings. In maritime shrub buntings occupied a compact area and rarely moved long distances. The painted bunting population of Sapelo Island requires conservation of maritime shrub as potential optimum nesting habitat and management of nesting habitat in open-canopy pine-oak sawtimber forests by periodic prescribed fire (every 4-6 years) and timber thinning within a landscape that contains salt marsh or freshwater wetland openings within 700 m of those forests.
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Home range and survival of breeding painted buntings on Sapelo Island, Georgia