Saturday, April 19, 2014

Indigo Buntings: Bright Blue Beauties

I've occasionally spotted these brightly colored blue birds throughout the last several years but didn't know much about them.  Since there have been several of them migrating through this area lately, I decided to do some research on these beautiful birds...

Cool facts about Indigo Buntings- they are sometimes nicknamed "blue canaries" because they whistle cheery songs through late spring and summer throughout eastern North America. They migrate at night, using the stars for guidance and they may travel up to 1,200 miles during migration from northern South America. Indigo Buntings eat seeds, berries, buds and insects. Common seed forage includes thistles, dandelions, goldenrods, and grain such as oats; berries eaten include blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, serviceberries, and elderberries. Spiders and insect prey, which form the majority of their diet during summer months, may include caterpillars, grasshoppers, aphids, cicadas and beetles such as canker worms, click beetles, and weevils. They are often mistaken for the Blue Grosbeak, another blue bird with similar characteristics.

Indigo Buntings are small (roughly sparrow-sized), stocky birds with short tails and short, thick, conical bills. In flight, the birds appear plump with short, rounded tails. Juvenile males have a "patchy" appearance during which time they are in a molting phase, until about their second year.  A breeding male Indigo Bunting is blue all over, with slightly richer blue on his head and a shiny, silver-gray bill. Females are basically brown, with faint streaking on the breast, a whitish throat, and sometimes a touch of blue on the wings, tail, or rump.

Their song was captured on video by The Music of Nature:

I am glad to be hosting these beautiful birds...I hope they will hang around through summer.  Right now there are about 6 or 7 of them that visit our feeders daily.  Aren't they gorgeous?  :)))))

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