Monday, May 16, 2011

First Sighting! Indigo Bunting

First it was a northern flicker, and now it's an indigo bunting, another bird I've never seen before.

Yesterday, as we were leaving Tiny Girl's horse show (after about eight hours, but that's another story), Himself pointed to a bird on the ground beside the barn and said, "Hey, look at that really blue bird!" So we did.

Photo courtesy Wikipedia

I said it wasn't a bluebird, and Tiny Girl commented, "It looks more teal than blue." I wondered aloud if it might be an indigo bunting, which I've read about but never seen.

We looked it up in our bird book when we got home. Lo and behold, it was a male indigo bunting. After a bit more research, we learned that males sport bright blue plumage only during breeding season, after which they fade to a brown more like females. Also, their feathers have no blue pigment, but are actually black. According to, "the diffraction of light through their feathers makes them look blue. This explains why males can appear many shades from turquoise to black."

Other interesting facts about indigo buntings (thanks,!):
- A group of buntings are collectively known as a "decoration," "mural," or "sacrifice" of buntings
- These migratory birds migrate at night, using the pattern of stars nearest the North Star to guide them

For a birdwatcher like me, it was exciting to see another new-to-me bird. I hope I see another soon!


  1. Oh, we've always thought those are so pretty but have never seen one! We're jealous now! :)

  2. Hi, Jamie! Apparently, they don't frequent back yards, which is where we do most of our birding. They tend to favor abandoned lots or cleared areas near treelines. This one was hanging out in a cleared area near the stables with a wooded area nearby. He was really striking!

  3. Wow... I spotted a bird with my daughters going slowly in the car by a construction swampy area, but I don't know what bird it is. Thanks for the tip, I will have to make it and try to see if I can identify some common birds that are new to me. I'm starting on this because I'm tired of seeing so much beauty and only be able to say bird! ha ha ha.
    Very interesting the fact about the feathers color.

  4. What a beautiful bird... I'm anxiously awaiting the day when I will see more than mourning doves and/or what is either a warbler or a sparrow. Of course, we have turkey vultures as well. But our backyard may not be the best place to see anything else :)

  5. Gorgeous!! How exciting!! We saw one two summers ago. It actually came back a couple days in a row. What a thrill!

  6. So, apparently I need to check your blog to know what to be on the look out for. First you saw a northern flicker - then we did a week later. Then you saw an indigo bunting - and after I commented on this post earlier - we just saw one at our feeder at 11:02 a.m.!! What a gift!

  7. Silvia, websites are great, but it's even better to have a field guide or book for you region. We have Don and Lillian Stokes's guide for the southeastern US. It's especially nice because it's organized by color, making it easier to identify a mystery bird you see.


I love reading comments! And I appreciate the time you take to leave them. Thanks!