Blue Canary aka Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting by Kevin Povenz

Indigo Bunting by Kevin Povenz

Yesterday I saw a brilliant blue Indigo bunting on the bird feeder, so let’s talk about them! All About Birds shares that the all-blue male Indigo Bunting are sometimes nicknamed “blue canaries” and known for their bouncy songs. There’s all kinds of info including recordings of their songs and fun facts like:

Indigo Buntings migrate at night, using the stars for guidance. Researchers demonstrated this process in the late 1960s by studying captive Indigo Buntings in a planetarium and then under the natural night sky. The birds possess an internal clock that enables them to continually adjust their angle of orientation to a star—even as that star moves through the night sky.

Indigo Buntings learn their songs as youngsters, from nearby males but not from their fathers. Buntings a few hundred yards apart generally sing different songs, while those in the same “song neighborhood” share nearly identical songs. A local song may persist up to 20 years, gradually changing as new singers add novel variations.

Like all other blue birds, Indigo Buntings lack blue pigment. Their jewel-like color comes instead from microscopic structures in the feathers that refract and reflect blue light, much like the airborne particles that cause the sky to look blue.

Kevin took this a decade ago at the Upper Macatawa Natural Area in Zeeland. See more in his Birds gallery on Flickr.

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2 thoughts on “Blue Canary aka Indigo Bunting

  1. For a couple of weeks in the spring, I have Baltimore orioles and rose-breasted grosbeaks at my back yard feeders. It’s always a thrill. But a few years ago, an indigo bunting joined the crowd. He came for meals for two days, then vanished, and I haven’t seen one since. A stunningly beautiful little bird!

    Liked by 1 person

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