Indigo BuntingPasserina cyanea

adult male
Rob Curtis/VIREO
adult female
Brian E. Small/VIREO
juvenile male
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
Indigo Bunting
Indigo Bunting

Family

Description

5 1/2" (14 cm). Sparrow-sized. In bright sunlight male brilliant turquoise blue, otherwise looks black; wings and tail darker. Female drab brown, paler beneath.

Voice

Rapid, excited warble, each note or phrase given twice.

Listen

song #2
song & male chip
zeep calls
song #1
alarm chips of pair

Habitat

Brushy slopes, abandoned farmland, old pastures and fields grown to scrub, woodland clearings, and forest edges adjacent to fields.

Range

Breeds from southeastern Saskatchewan east to New Brunswick, and south to central Arizona, central Texas, Gulf Coast, and northern Florida. Winters in southern Florida and in tropics.

Discussion

Indigo Buntings have no blue pigment; they are actually black, but the diffraction of light through the structure of the feathers makes them appear blue. These attractive birds are also found in rural roadside thickets and along the right-of-way of railroads, where woodlands meet open areas. They are beneficial to farmers and fruit growers, consuming many insect pests and weed seeds.

Nesting

3 or 4 pale blue eggs in a compact woven cup of leaves and grass placed in a sapling or bush in relatively thick vegetation and within a few feet of the ground.

Similar Species

adult male, breeding

White-collared Seedeater

4" (10 cm). A tiny, large-billed, round-tailed, drab-colored bird of the Rio Grande Valley.

adult male

Blue Bunting

5 - 5 1/2" (13-14 cm). Male is dark blue-black overall, somewhat paler on the crown, rump and shoulders; coloration of the male Indigo Bunting, by comparison, is relatively uniform.

adult male

Blue Grosbeak

6-7 1/2" (15-19 cm). Slightly larger than a House Sparrow. Male dark blue with 2 chestnut wing bars and a stout, dark bill. Female dark buff-brown with 2 buff wing bars.

adult male, breeding

Lazuli Bunting

5-5 1/2" (13-14 cm). Sparrow-sized. Male bright blue with pale cinnamon breast, white belly and wing bars. Female dull brown, lighter below, with 2 pale wing bars.

adult male

Varied Bunting

4 1/2-5 1/2" (11-14 cm). Sparrow-sized. Male dark purple-blue, with a dull red patch on nape; looks all black at a distance. Female dull gray-brown without distinctive markings.

Vireo

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