Indigo Bunting

Passerina cyanea
Indigo Bunting specimens on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A small (5 ½ inches) bunting, the male Indigo Bunting is most easily identified by its bright blue body, dark wings and tail, and small conical bill. The female Indigo Bunting is brownish gray on top and pale brown below. Male Indigo Buntings resemble females during their autumn molt, taking on brown feathers in place of the bright blue plumage they wore during the breeding season. The Indigo Bunting breeds across much of the eastern United States and southern Canada south to central Florida and Texas. This species also breeds locally west of the plains as far as California and the southwest. In winter, Indigo Buntings may be found in south Florida, southern Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies. Indigo Buntings breed in forest edges and clearings of open deciduous woodlands. During the winter, this species may be found in tropical grassland and scrubland. Indigo Buntings primarily eat insects during the summer, adding seeds and berries to their diet in the winter. In appropriate habitat, Indigo Buntings may be seen foraging for food in shrubs and low tree branches. Birdwatchers may also listen for this species’ song, a series of paired notes vaguely recalling that of a finch. Indigo Buntings are primarily active during the day.

DC Information

Abundant summer resident arriving mid-April and leaving by mid-October. Nests from late May to early August. Found in wood margins and brushy areas. The male is bright blue; the female, brown.

Specimen Information

The bird on the left is a female; a male is on the right.

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC53841 Passerina cyanea (Indigo Bunting)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC17147 Passerina cyanea (Indigo Bunting)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC17148 Passerina cyanea (Indigo Bunting)