Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)

Indigo bunting

Indigo bunting./T. Berriman

General: Indigo bunting males are brilliant blue and females are brown, sometimes with blue-tinged wings, tail, and rump. Rangewide, the species breeds in young forest habitats including old fields grown up in weeds, briars, shrubs, and brush, and in areas of small regrowing trees. Indigo buntings are often found along woodland edges, in regenerating clearcuts, and in forest openings where thick growth occurs following blowdowns or timber harvests. They inhabit brushy wetlands and low areas near swamps and along rivers, places that have dense vegetation growing in the wake of floods that damage or kill mature forest trees. Indigo buntings often feed on the ground, eating insects and the seeds of weeds, grasses, and other plants. They site their nests close to ground level in thick herbaceous vegetation, shrubs, or saplings. During mating season, adults use upright woody vegetation for song perches.

Status: Although indigo buntings remain relatively common throughout much of their range, their numbers appear to be decreasing in the Northeast. Human development of former habitat areas probably is playing a role in this decline, and also the loss of young forest habitat as the region's woodlands naturally mature.
How to Help Indigo Buntings: Studies suggest that local indigo bunting populations respond positively to forest harvest techniques that create early successional or young forest habitat, especially clearcuts. Both public and private landowners can make this kind of habitat. The Young Forest Guide explains how.

Click on the map at left to see a larger image.

For more detailed information on this animal, including references to scientific papers, download Under Cover: Wildlife of Shrublands and Young Forest. This publication can also be purchased from the Wildlife Management Institute.

Visit a habitat demonstration area within this species' range to increase your chances of seeing indigo buntings and other young forest wildlife.