Common Name

Scientific Name


Photo by Jim Parrish
Photo Copyright Jim Parrish

The indigo bunting, Passerina cyanea, breeds from southeastern Canada and the eastern United States to the southwestern United States. The species winters from southern Mexico and the Caribbean Islands to northwestern South America. It is rare during summer in scattered locations throughout Utah, but mainly occurs in the southwestern corner of the state. The indigo bunting prefers brushy and weedy habitats. In summer, its diet consists mainly of small arthropods, mostly insects and spiders. In winter, it eats mainly small seeds, buds, and insects.

The nest is normally one to three feet above the ground in weedy or shrubby vegetation, rarely higher (thirty feet or more above the ground) in a tree. There are usually three or four eggs, which are incubated by the female parent for twelve to thirteen days. The nestlings are usually tended only by the female parent, but sometimes by the male as well. They leave the nest nine to twelve days after hatching. Nests of this species are commonly parasitized by brown-headed cowbirds.


  • Payne, R. B. Indigo bunting. Birds of North America 4: 1–23.

  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder’s handbook[:] a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon & Schuster, New York. xxx + 785 pp.