Late spring through early summer brings a multitude of colorful birds our way on their way to their summer breeding grounds. One of the most colorful of these is the indigo bunting (Passerina cyanea). The indigo bunting is a small sparrow-sized bird that belongs to the cardinal family. The female bunting is mostly brown, but the male turns a very bright blue during the breeding season, only to become a more drab brown after returning to its winter home.
Indigo buntings prefer open forest, brushy areas, and weedy margins near roads or power lines as habitat, ranging from Florida to Canada in the summer, migrating to Florida and South America during the fall. Recently, they have expanded into parts of the Southwest. These birds normally migrate during the night, navigating by the stars. This species has been widely studied for this trait. Buntings have been known to converge into large flocks when they are in migration mode. Their diet consists of small insects, seeds, and berries. As a species, indigo bunting numbers have been staying steady or increasing slightly. Look for buntings swooping down to grab insects out of the air the next time you are traveling down one of Frederick County’s picturesque rural roads.
Article by FCFCDB
Nature note for 8/22/20