Indigo Bunting

Passerina cyanea

Flashing bright blue as they fly through the wooded areas, the Indigo Bunting is a truly a flying jewel. Males sport vivid blue feathers during the summer season, making them easily seen beside roads, edges of fields/woodlands and along streams and rivers.

FEEDING: Indigo Buntings are primarily seed and berry eaters. They are especially fond of thistle and goldenrod seeds as well as serviceberry, elderberry and blueberry bushes. During the summer when they feeding voracious chicks, they will collect insects as well.

NESTS: Nests are well concealed in the brush found along the edges of roads, fields and woodlands. The nests are small and typically cup shaped. Females lay up to 4 small, bluish eggs. Females are a dull brown compared to their mates – better to hide themselves and their nests.

CONSERVATION: Indigo Buntings are considered abundant, but their numbers are decreasing around areas were the land is intensively farmed or frequently mowed. 

A new threat to this species is the illegal wildlife trade. An increasing number of males are captured and sold while in their winter habitat in Mexico. They are highly prized for their colorful feathers and beautiful song.

Finally, increasing global temperatures and other climatic change appears to be pushing this species farther and farther north to find suitable breeding grounds.

ATTRACTING THEM TO YOUR YARD: Because they are seed eaters, it is fairly simple to attract this species to your yard if you are near suitable nesting habitat. Fill your feeders with thistle (nyjer) seed and other finch-friendly food and hopefully they will find your offering! You may also be able to attract them with mealworms, especially during the breeding season.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: visit allaboutbirds.org

male (above); female (below)

Typical Indigo Bunting nest made of woven grass and straw with eggs