|Conservation status||Does well in brushy rural areas, but not in urbanized areas or regions of intense agriculture. Since about 1940s, has extended breeding range to include much of southwest.|
|Family||Cardinals, Grosbeaks and Buntings|
|Habitat||Brushy pastures, bushy wood edges. For nesting favors roadsides, old fields growing up to bushes, edges of woodlands, and other edge habitats such as along rights-of-way for powerlines or railroads. Also in clearings within deciduous woods, edges of swamps. In the west, usually near streams. During winter in the tropics, most common around brushy edges of farm fields.|
Forages at all levels from ground up into shrubs and trees. Takes insects from leaves, seeds from ground or stems, berries from shrubs. Forages alone in summer, in flocks in winter.
3-4, rarely 1-2. White to bluish-white, rarely with brown or purple spots. Incubation is by female only, 12-13 days, sometimes 11-14 days. Young: Fed only by female in most cases. At some nests, male helps feed young when they are nearly old enough to fly. Young usually leave nest 9-12 days after hatching. Male sometimes takes over feeding of fledged young while female begins second nesting attempt. 2 broods per year.
Fed only by female in most cases. At some nests, male helps feed young when they are nearly old enough to fly. Young usually leave nest 9-12 days after hatching. Male sometimes takes over feeding of fledged young while female begins second nesting attempt. 2 broods per year.
Mostly seeds and insects. In breeding season feeds mostly on insects and spiders, also some seeds, berries. Young in the nest are fed mostly insects at first. In winter, eats many seeds, also some insects.
Male establishes territory in spring, defends it with song. Male may have more than one mate at a time living on his territory. Nest site is usually 1-3' above ground, rarely up to 30' or more, in dense shrub or low tree. Late in season, may nest in large weed such as goldenrod. Nest (built by female) an open cup of grass, leaves, weeds, bark strips, lined with finer materials.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Many migrate across Gulf of Mexico in both spring and fall. Migrates at night, and can navigate by the stars. Important studies of bird navigation and migration have involved this species.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsRapid, excited warble, each note or phrase given twice.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Indigo Bunting
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Indigo Bunting
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.