Indigo Bunting – Passerina cyanea

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This photo is from last summer. These guys are enjoying their Caribbean vacation right now.

Like all other blue birds, Indigo Buntings lack blue pigment. Their blue color comes instead from microscopic structures in the feathers that refract and reflect blue light, much like the airborne particles that cause the sky to look blue.

If you hold a blue feather up to the light, the dull brown-black color of the pigment melanin can be seen, not the blue.

A long-distance, nocturnal migrant, indigo buntings form large flocks and migrate south from their breeding grounds between September and mid-October, using the stars for navigation. The birds possess an internal clock that enables them to continually adjust their angle of orientation to a starโ€”even as that star moves through the night sky.

Northward migration from its wintering grounds usually begins in late April or May. Females migrate up to two weeks later than males.

32 thoughts on “Indigo Bunting – Passerina cyanea

  1. Lovely rotund bird ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ I had no idea blue birds were not actually blue !!!! Is this same for macaws as well ? Bird brains have better degree in astronomy it seems ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  2. Sweet facts! I love Mother Nature and her many wonders. And Indigo Buntings are special little birds I think. Last spring/summer was the first time I’d ever seen one in real time, I was ecstatic. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for sharing this and getting me excited again. I’m going to believe the weather-guessers as you put it.

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      • Oh good luck! I’d love to get some different birds at my feeder as well. You might remember last year I managed to attract a Rose-breasted Grosbeak to mine, another first for me, though I saw the female more than the male (only once for him but still splendid).

        My biggest problem is the darn house sparrows. It’s like my backyard is their territory, especially since they nest in the boxes on the side of my neighbors’ garage. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ They overwhelm the feeders sometimes, and I have multiple feeders. There’s only so much you can spend on wild bird seed! But I’ll join you in the attempt to get new visitors nonetheless. Will have to work on my marketing campaign… ๐Ÿ˜‰

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        • Wow, a grosbeak, that would be cool! I’ve never seen one. I want to get a serviceberry to attract the cedar waxwing. I hear their around. I really lessened the sparrows by loosing the millet / milo. I still have a few around, but not like it used to be when my coworker was in charge, it was sparrow central. Now my top 5 are chickadees, nuthatches, purple & yellow finches and woodpeckers.

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          • That’s a nice variety there. So you were able to lessen the sparrows? I would like to do that but I’m not sure how possible that is considering all the birdhouses they next in next door. They are certainly most dominant around here.

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            • Yes. Lessened I did! No one near me had feeders or houses. But 4 years ago, my coworker only had a large flock of sparrows. I trained for 6 months. .. sparrows. Ohh, a dove! Oh, sparrow. Yawn.
              I changed food and feeder types. Do some experimenting. I read nuthatchs like corn. They never touch my corn. But they love sunflowers! Don’t go with a mix. Set out one type of food at a time. See who stops by!

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              • Good advice! It’s so easy to just buy a cheap mix but man did I mess up getting this 35lb bag for $7. Seemed like an awesome deal but I should have known better given I couldn’t see the mix through the bag. But I did have a Downy Woodpecker picking away at my suet the other day. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ll give your advice a shot to use less mixes. Sunflower is the love of everyone, my parrots as well.

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  3. Loved the detail about the migration, I can hear the husbands: c’mon!! we can’t wait any longer, your makeup looks fine, your dress is gorgeous, we’re leaving NOW!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

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