Blane Klemek: The indigo bunting is strikingly blue and very musical – Detroit Lakes Tribune

Imagine you are a birdwatcher who is red-green color blind. Indeed, the fact that the undersigned has difficulty distinguishing colors and hues, especially red and variations of red, is one of the reasons why blue became a favorite color of mine long ago (and also why coloring was not a favorite activity of mine in lower ages). school).

For me the colors blue and yellow really stand out.

So recently, while walking near my backyard bird feeder, the lone male indigo bunting on the bird feeder made me stop and watch. Such a beautiful wild bird species – the indigo gorges – few people would disagree. They really are a feast for the eyes.

Sometimes confused with eastern bluebirds and blue grosbeaks, the all-blue males, sometimes with blackish wings, are understandably very conspicuous birds.

Their conical beaks are perfect for feeding insects as well as seeds. A bird the size of a sparrow with a length of only five centimeters. Without the song of the male indigo gorges and the stunning blue coloration, the species would probably go relatively unnoticed.

Interestingly, the brilliant blue feathers of the species we see are not blue at all. It appears that the indigo bunting is actually black in color; for it is the light, or rather the diffraction of the light by the feathers of an indigo bunting, which makes them appear blue. The discoloration of the blue jay’s plumage is similarly perceived by our eyes.

During the breeding season, they are found in the eastern half of the United States and in southern Canada. Indigo buntings migrate as far south as northern South America during the winter months, but some birds occasionally spend year-round in southern Florida. However, most migrate north each spring to breed, nest and raise their young.

Preferred habitat for indigo bunting is dense undergrowth, tall trees near forest edges, open brushy fields, farmland, wooded roads and forest openings.

The song of the male indigo bunting is a beautiful sequence of sharp, high-pitched and very clear whistles. Their song is often written as “what! what! where? where? see it! see it!”, which is an easy mnemonic to use in identifying the ravishing song when you’re gone.

And at the height of the breeding season, when male birds are busy establishing and defending breeding grounds, you can be sure that one song will be followed by another over and over.

Male indigo buntings are tireless singers. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology website writes that as many as 200 songs per hour at dawn and about one song per minute for the rest of the day is typical of male singing. Few other birds sing so much.

After brief courtship and mating, and while male indigo buntings continue to sing and defend their breeding grounds, female indigos begin building nests and laying eggs.

She alone chooses a nest site, which is normally located among undergrowth along field edges, adjacent to woodland and even rights-of-way from roads and railways.

Nests are built in just over a week — again by just the female — using materials such as grasses, leaves, bark and plant stems. The small, cup-shaped nest is built barely a meter above the ground in the cross of branches and is usually wrapped in cobwebs.

The female bunting also carefully lines the inside of the nest with fine grasses and other plant matter, thistle down and even thin animal hair. Up to four eggs are laid with an incubation period of about two weeks. Both parents care for the young, which fledge quickly – usually in less than two weeks.

Indigo buntings can be attracted to your backyard feeding station with a variety of small seeds, especially thistle or nyjer seed. And like eastern bluebirds, indigo buntings are also insectivores, so providing live mealworms can also work to attract indigo buntings to your property.

The beautiful indigo bunting is as striking a bird as they come here in northwestern Minnesota. And while other birds are blue too—eastern bluebirds, white-breasted nuthatches, blue jays, blue grosbeaks, and others—no other blue-colored bird sings so persistently and beautifully. There are also no other blue birds that are as stunningly blue as the indigo bunting, as we go outside and enjoy the great outdoors.

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