Painted Bunting is regarded as a "species of concern" in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Migratory Bird Program Strategic Plan 2004-2014; as a Watch List Species by Partners in Flight (Rich et al. 2004); and as Near-Threatened by BirdLife International. The Painted Bunting also is listed as a Species of Concern in the newly proposed Norma Oficial Mexicana 059 para las Especies Amenazadas y en Peligro.
Across the United States breeding range of Painted Bunting, Breeding Bird Survey results show a long-term (1966-2003) decline at an average rate of -1.6 %/year (Sauer et al. 2007) (see also Populations and Demography). The reasons for this decline have not been identified, and could include factors affecting Painted Buntings both on the breeding grounds, or in areas where buntings occur in winter or on migration. Among the latter factors is the potential effect of commercial trapping, which is illegal in the United States but which is common in Mexico and in Cuba (see Effects of Human Activity on Populations).
The Breeding Bird Surveys do not show statistically significant population trends for the eastern population of Painted Bunting, but this survey may not accurately reflect population trends of Painted Bunting in this region (see Populations and Demography). The eastern population remains of great concern because of its geographically restricted breeding area, which is, at most, only 4% of the size of the breeding area occupied by the western population (Sykes and Holzman 2005). Furthermore, eastern Painted Buntings often are most abundant in areas close to the coast, where natural habitats often are lost to development as human population increases in the region. An encouraging note is that approximately 13.5% of the total breeding range of the eastern Painted Bunting is made up of public lands. These public lands could provide a critically important refuge for buntings (Sykes and Holzman 2005).