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Indigo Bunting

Scientific name: Passerina cyanea

This small songbird is the size of a sparrow and is in the cardinal family. The male is a bright blue with grey/black bills and wings while the female is a pale brown with some blue streaks. During the breeding season, the male takes on a more vibrant color. Note the conical bill, the better for cracking seeds.

If you would like to attract these birds to your yard, offer small seeds such as thistle and nyjer. Consider creating a habitat which is inviting to them. Keep hedges around the periphery of your yard and plant natives in the aster family, or bushes that provide berries.

These beautiful birds are very vulnerable as they nest on the ground. The neutral color of the female helps her to camouflage her nest to protect her young. American songbirds have declined in population by almost 50% from 1966 to 2015.  To learn more, the please read this   article in National Geographic Magazine.

Photos on this page are courtesy of the Missouri Department of Environmental Conservation.


.5 ounce


4-5 inches

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Insects, seeds and berries. They enjoy the small seeds from plants in the aster family, such as dandelion, sunflower and goldenrod.


Shrub habitat and woodlands edge.


They migrate using the stars and flying at night. Visual light pollution can cause problems with navigation. Their winter range starts in Florida and extends as far as South America. They can migrate up to 2,000 miles.

How You Can Help

Please do not let your cat outside. Birds that nest on the ground are particularly vulnerable. The single biggest factor which has been identified in the decrease of this population is the predation by cats.

Locally, it is very dangerous for cats to be outside as there are many predators which can feed on them.

Fun Facts

The Indigo Bunting migrates at night and uses the stars to navigate. Light pollution can hamper this behavior.


This bird loves to sing in the morning! The indigo bunting has been identified singing up to unique hundred songs at dawn. Click here to hear more.

Similar Species

See the photos below which show the contrast between the bluebird and indigo bunting.

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