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 whatbird.com, "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, whatbird.com!):
- 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!