Indigo Buntings can be attracted to your yard with seed
feeders, water, and a little shrubbery.
Identification and Pictures
These are small finches about 5 ˝ inches. Their small conical bill is useful for both
insects and, seeds. When they are in breeding plumage
adult males are all blue, possibly with blackish wings, and
tail with blue edges. The iridescent blue color is not a
result of pigmentation. The structure of the feathers causes
light to scatter or reflect giving the feathers an often
bright blue coloration. The blue color changes with
different lighting. Get this bird
in a puzzle.
Photo by Dave Menke, US
Young males have black feathers that will turn bluer with
each year. The female and young are dull brown with small
amounts of blue in the tail, and shoulders, and blurred wing
bars. After breeding season the males loose their brilliant
plumage, and look more like the females.
Indigo buntings are often mistaken for Blue grosbeak or
Songs and Calls
From perches throughout his territory you can hear the
constant melody of the male. Its song is a fast warble of
paired phrases sounding like “sweet-sweet, cheer cheer,
seeit-seeit”. They also have a flight song, usually sung at
dawn and twilight that sounds like “tsick”. In poor light
you may only have its song and its silhouette for identification.
Note on some browsers you will not be able to see or use the
drop down sound list. If you can't use it try the sound
link below. Bunting Song
Range, Habitat and Migration
Indigo Buntings prefer thick brushy areas with a few tall
trees near woodland edges. They can be found in open brushy
fields, and farmlands, forest clearings, along roadsides, and
in yards with bushes or shrubbery.
The birds are found in most of eastern North America and in
southern Canada during the breeding season.
Most Indigo Buntings migrate to central Mexico, Central
America, and northern South America in the winter. Some may
stay around all year in warmer areas such as southern
Breeding and Nesting
They like to breed in brushy and weedy areas. Clearings,
swamps, open fields, and woodlands are all used. In April to
mid May older male buntings arrive on their North American
breeding grounds. By the time the females arrive a couple weeks later
the males will have their territories. The female will pick
her mate, and the two birds will have 2 to 3 broods.
The female builds a small sturdy nest of twigs, leaves, and
plant fibers. The lining includes feathers, fine grasses,
cloth, and other materials. The nest is generally hidden in
heavy cover close to the ground. The female will incubate 2
to 6 white or bluish-white eggs for around 2 weeks.
Females do most of the feeding of the young until they fledge
in around 10 days. After they fledge the male may take care
of them while the female gets ready for a second brood. Until
the eggs hatch the male stays away from the nest. He does
defend it, and increases defense after the eggs hatch. Both
birds may mate with other partners.