Above: Indigo Bunting in a patch of flowers (photo by Dennis Swayze)
What does it look like?
When seen in good light, a male Indigo Bunting is a stunningly deep blue jewel. In poor light this small finch-like bird, slightly smaller than a House Sparrow, can look almost black. Females are brownish, somewhat darker on the upperparts than below, with fine streaks on the breast.
Does it migrate?
Indigo Buntings are among the last species to arrive in spring and among the first to depart. They winter primarily though Central America and in the Caribbean.
Above: Indigo Bunting perched on a plant (photo by Dennis Swayze)
Where does it live?
The range in Manitoba covers its southern quarter. Here it can be found in a variety of habitats: mature river-bottom forest, lightly wooded sandy areas and open deciduous woods.
Where can I see it?
Some Winnipeg Parks are particularly good places to find this finch: Crescent Park, St. Vital Park, King’s Park and the English Garden in Assiniboine Park. Listen for it as it sings from tall tree tops.
Above: Indigo Bunting among some greenery (photo by Dennis Swayze)
Loss of habitat on the wintering grounds is probably the most serious threat to this species.
Did you know?
Lazuli Bunting, a close western relative of the Indigo Bunting, also occurs in the province, albeit rarely. There are numerous records of hybrids in Manitoba, so care must be taken when trying to identify either species.
Written by: Rudolf Koes