Overview

Brief Summary

Lazuli Buntings (Passerina amoena) are found over most of the United States and adjacent Canada west of the Great Plains. They breed in arid brushy areas in canyons, riparian thickets, chapparal, scrub oak, and open woodland. In summer in the western United States, they are common around thickets and streamside trees. In migration and in winter, they also occur in open grassy and weedy areas. The wintering range extends from southern Arizona and northern Mexico to southern Mexico.

Lazuli Buntings feed mainly on seeds and (especially in summer) insects (young are fed mostly insects). The nest is bult by the female in shrubs, vines, or low trees, typically around a meter above the ground. The female lays 3 to 5 (usually 4) eggs. At some nests, nestings are fed entirely by the female whereas at others the male assists. Young leave the nest around 10 to 12 days after hatching. If the female initiates a second clutch, males may take on a greater share of feeding the fledglings from the first clutch. Fall migration begins early, with many birds already moving by late July. Migrants stray east of the breeding range on the Great Plains, especially in spring.

Lazuli Buntings and Indigo Buntings (P. cyanea) are closely related species that hybridize where their breeding ranges overlap in the western Great Plains and eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains of North America. Carling and Brumfield (2009) and Carling et al. (2010) reported on population genetic analyses to investigate the genetic architecture and dynamics underlying this interaction in the Great Plains. In addition to the range overlap in the Great Plains, since the mid-20th century, Indigo Buntings have extended their breeding range into New Mexico and Arizona, but their interactions with Lazuli Buntings here have not been as extensively studied as in the Great Plains. Lazuli and Indigo Bunting males defend territories against each other (behavior not typically seen between members of different species).

(AOU 1998; Kaufman 1996; Carling et al. 2010 and references therein)

  • American Ornithologists' Union. 1998. Check-list of North American Birds, 7th edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
  • Kaufman, K. 1996. Lives of North American Birds. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
  • Carling, M.D., I.J. Lovette, and R.T. Brumfield. 2010. Historical divergence and gene flow: coalescent analyses of mitochondrial, autosomal and sex-linked loci in Passerina buntings. Evolution 64(6): 1762-1772.
  • Carling, M.D. and R.T. Brumfield. 2009. Speciation in Passerina buntings: introgression patterns of sex-linked loci identify a candidate gene region for reproductive isolation. Molecular Ecology 18(5): 834-847.
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Distribution

occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Breeding

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Breeding

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Global Range: BREEDING: southern British Columbia east to southern Saskatchewan, central North Dakota, and South Dakota, south to southeastern California, northwestern Baja California, southern Nevada, southwestern Utah, central Arizona, northern New Mexico, western Oklahoma, east to eastern Nebraska, western Kansas, and western Oklahoma. NON-BREEDING: southern Baja California, southern Arizona (scarce), and Chihuahua south to Guerrero and central Veracruz (AOU 1983).

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Range

S British Columbia to nw Baja and w Texas; > in Mexico.

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Physical Description

Size

Length: 14 cm

Weight: 16 grams

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Ecology

Habitat

Comments: Arid brushy areas in canyons, riparian thickets, chaparral and open woodland; in migration and winter also in open grassy and weedy areas (AOU 1983). BREEDING: Nests in small trees, shrubs, or vines, 0.3-3 m above ground.

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Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Many but not all individuals migrate in fall to molting areas in southern Baja California or the region bounded by southern Arizona, southwestern New Mexcio, and northern Sonora before continuing on to the winter range in western Mexico (Young 1991).

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Trophic Strategy

Comments: Feeds on insects (grasshopper, caterpillars, beetles, ants, etc) and seeds (wild oats, canary grass, needlegrass, etc.).

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Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 9.9 years (wild)
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Reproduction

Breeding begins late March in south to early June in north. Clutch size 3-5. Incubation 12 days, by female. Altricial, downy nestlings are either tended by both parents or by female. Young leave nest in 10-15 days.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Passerina amoena

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 7 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.  Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.  See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

ACTGTACCTAATCTTCGGCGCATGAGCCGGAATAGTAGGCACTGCCCTAAGCCTCCTCATTCGAGCAGAACTGGGTCAACCTGGAGCCCTTCTAGGAGACGACCAAGTCTACAATGTGGTCGTCACAGCCCATGCTTTCGTAATAATCTTCTTCATAGTCATGCCAATTATAATCGGAGGGTTCGGAAACTGACTAGTCCCTCTAATAATCGGAGCCCCAGATATAGCATTCCCACGAATAAACAACATAAGCTTCTGACTGCTCCCTCCATCTTTCCTGCTTCTCTTAGCATCCTCTACAGTCGAAGCAGGAGTCGGCACAGGCTGAACAGTCTACCCCCCACTAGCCGGTAACCTAGCCCACGCTGGAGCTTCAGTCGACCTAGCAATCTTCTCCCTACACTTAGCCGGTATCTCCTCCATTTTAGGAGCTATCAACTTTATCACAACAGCAATCAACATAAAACCCCCTGCCCTCTCACAATACCAAACCCCCCTATTCGTCTGATCCGTCCTAATTACCGCAGTCCTTTTACTCCTATCCCTCCCAGTACTAGCCGCAGGCATCACAATACTCCTAACAGACCGCAACCTCAACACTACATTCTTCGACCCTGCTGGGGGAGGAGACCCGGTTCTATACCAACACCTCTTCTGATTCTTTGGCCACCCAGAAGTCNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN
-- end --

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Passerina amoena

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 9
Specimens with Barcodes: 9
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5B - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5B - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
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Population

Population Trend
Increasing
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Wikipedia

Lazuli bunting

The lazuli bunting (Passerina amoena) is a North American songbird named for the gemstone lapis lazuli.

The male is easily recognized by its bright blue head and back (lighter than the closely related indigo bunting), its conspicuous white wingbars, and its light rusty breast and white belly. The color pattern may suggest the eastern and western bluebirds, but the smaller size (13–14 cm or 5–5.5 inches long), wingbars, and short and conical bunting bill quickly distinguish it. The female is brown, grayer above and warmer underneath, told from the female indigo bunting by two thin and pale wingbars and other plumage details.

The song is a high, rapid, strident warble, similar to that of the indigo bunting but longer and with less repetition.

Upper figure, male; lower, female

Lazuli buntings breed mostly west of the 100th meridian from southern Canada to northern Texas, central New Mexico and Arizona, and southern California. On the Pacific coast their breeding range extends south to extreme northwestern Baja California. They migrate to southeastern Arizona and Mexico. Their habitat is brushy areas and sometimes weedy pastures, generally well-watered, and sometimes in towns.

These birds eat mostly seeds and insects. They may feed conspicuously on the ground or in bushes, but singing males are often very elusive in treetops.

This bird makes a loose cup nest of grasses and rootlets placed in a bush. It lays three or four pale blue eggs. In the eastern and southern part of its range, it often hybridizes with the indigo bunting.

References[edit]

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Hybridizes with P. CYANEA where ranges overlap in the Great Plains, but the two species are locally sympatric without interbreeding in the Southwest; they have been regarded as conspecific by a few authors, but are regarded as superspecies by AOU (1998). Baker and Baker (1991) present evidence that indicates low levels of hybridization and introgression with assortative mating.

However, a recent phylogenetic study of the mitochondrial cytochrome-b gene indicates that these two hybridizing species are not sister taxa at all; instead, P. AMEONA is most closely related to the much larger Blue Grosbeak (GUIRACA CAERULEA) and P. CYANEA is basal to the PASSERINA-GUIRACA group (Klicka et al. 2001). LINARIA is an invalid generic name for North America buntings (Banks and Browning 1995).

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