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The male Indigo Bunting is a rich, deep blue all over, but may appear dark and blackish in poor light. Song is composed of loud, strident high-pitched notes that are often delivered in pairs. A popular memory-phrase for the song is "fire-fire, where-where, here-here, seeit-seeit." Indigo Buntings frequent forest clearings and second-growth habitat in the East and Midwest.


Indigo Bunting: Small finch with brilliant, almost iridescent, blue plumage. Crown is darker blue with a purple tint. Female and juvenile are brown with blurred wingbars, unstreaked backs, streaked breasts and bellies, and blue tinges on shoulders and tails. Winter and first spring males resemble juvenile but are sprinkled with blue feathers.

Range and Habitat

Indigo Bunting: Breeds from southeastern Saskatchewan east to New Brunswick, and south to central Arizona, central Texas, the Gulf coast, and northern Florida. Spends winters in southern Florida and in the tropics. Preferred habitats include brushy slopes, abandoned farmlands, old pastures and fields grown to scrub, woodland clearings, and forest edges adjacent to fields.

Interesting Facts

  Indigo Buntings are actually black; the diffraction of light through their feathers makes them look blue.  This explains why males can appear many shades from turquoise to black

Sex Differences

Male in breeding plumage brilliant blue, female dull brown.


Song a musical series of warbling notes, each phrase given in twos. Call a sharp, thin "spit." Flight call a high buzz.

Cool Facts

  • The Indigo Bunting migrates at night, using the stars for guidance. It learns its orientation to the night sky from its experience as a young bird observing the stars.

  • Experienced adult Indigo Buntings can return to their previous breeding sites when held captive during the winter and released far from their normal wintering area.

  • The sequences of notes in Indigo Bunting songs are unique to local neighborhoods. Males a few hundred meters apart generally have different songs. Males on neighboring territories often have the same or nearly identical songs.

  • Indigo and Lazuli buntings defend territories against each other in the western Great Plains where they occur together, share songs, and sometimes interbreed.

  • Small songbird.
  • Short, thick bill.
  • Male brilliant dark blue all over.
  • Female dull brown.

  • Size: 12-13 cm (5-5 in)
  • Wingspan: 19-22 cm (7-9 in)
  • Weight: 12-18 g (0.42-0.64 ounces)

Indigo Buntings may look blue but they have no blue pigment in their feathers. They are actually black, but the way the light shines through the structure of the feathers makes them appear blue. These attractive birds are welcomed by farmers and fruit growers, because they eat many insect pests and weed seeds.