Thursday, June 9, 2016

Indigo Bunting

Bird Magic Comes in Blue

Indigo Bunting
This time of year some of our birds are spectacular, 'eye candy' in today's vernacular.  I recently had the good fortune to see three male Indigo Buntings.  I was attracted to them by their song.  They sound a bit like a goldfinch.  The song is roughly in 3 parts and some people translate it to, 'fire fire, where where, here here'.

Indigo Bunting
The male Indigo Bunting shown above is easy to identify, entirely bright blue.   The medium blue colour is intense, so  much so that if the light is not right, the bird looks black.  The blue colour on the back is a more cerulean blue and it sometimes looks iridescent.  The beak is large (it is a seed eater) and gray coloured.

This species is dimorphic (genders look different).  The female is a dull medium brown colour with faint wing bars and when in breeding plumage, she has faint streaking on the underparts.  See the female below.

Female Indigo Bunting [The Sibley Guide to Birds, p.547]
The Indigo Bunting is about sparrow-sized, 14 cm (5.5") long.  It normally feeds on the ground or in trees or shrubs on seeds, insects, forbs, buds and berries.  It prefers forest edges, grasslands with scattered trees, bushes and shrubs or scrub vegetation.  It builds its nest in bushes or thick vegetation within a few feet of the ground.  Its nest is a compact woven cup of leaves and grass in which it lays 3 or 4 white to light blue eggs, sometimes with brown or purple spots.

Indigo Bunting
Indigo Buntings are not regular feeder birds but they can be enticed to come in and feed with safflower, apple slices, suet, millet, crushed peanuts and fruit.

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