A cooperative multi-state monitoring effort was initiated for Passerina ciris (Painted Bunting) in 2008 because of a suspected decline in its eastern population. The Florida component of this range-wide study was conducted during 3 consecutive breeding seasons to obtain a better understanding of abundance and habitat use (vegetation associations) than could be obtained from existing indices, to examine factors affecting detectability, and to determine whether short-term trends could be assessed. Sample units (three hundred two 0.01–27-km2 blocks) were allocated for Florida from which 22 were randomly selected, within which 101 point-count survey stations were established. Point-count surveys (n = 906) were conducted annually from 2008 to 2010, and vegetation characteristics were quantified for each location. Abundances were estimated from the counts by an N-mixture model for open populations. Estimated mean breeding density of male Painted Buntings in Florida decreased from 12.4 males/km2 in 2008 to 9.8 males/km2 in 2010; these densities are at the low end of the range previously reported for the eastern population. In combination with an estimate of available habitat (1558 km2), the mean estimate of the total number of males (maximum potential abundance) decreased from 19,319 in 2008 to 15,268 in 2010. Painted Bunting abundance in Florida was greater toward the northern end of its range. Abundance was positively associated with the amount of maritime forest and hammock at count points and negatively associated with the amount of planted pine. Conservation of remaining maritime forest and hammock will be fundamental in maintaining breeding populations of the Painted Bunting in Florida.
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Vol. 12 • No. 1