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Brief Summary

    Indigo bunting: Brief Summary
    provided by wikipedia

    The indigo bunting (Passerina cyanea) is a small seed-eating bird in the cardinal family, Cardinalidae. It is migratory, ranging from southern Canada to northern Florida during the breeding season, and from southern Florida to northern South America during the winter. It often migrates by night, using the stars to navigate. Its habitat is farmland, brush areas, and open woodland. The indigo bunting is closely related to the lazuli bunting and interbreeds with the species where their ranges overlap.

     src= Quintana, Texas, spring migration  src= Quintana, Texas, female

    The indigo bunting is a small bird, with a length of 11.5–13 cm (4.5–5.1 in). It displays sexual dimorphism in its coloration; the male is a vibrant blue in the summer and a brown color during the winter months, while the female is brown year-round. The male displays brightly colored plumage during the breeding season to attract a mate. Nest-building and incubation are done solely by the female. The diet of the indigo bunting consists primarily of insects during the summer months and seeds during the winter months.

    Passerina cyanea
    provided by DC Birds Brief Summaries

    A small (5 ½ inches) bunting, the male Indigo Bunting is most easily identified by its bright blue body, dark wings and tail, and small conical bill. The female Indigo Bunting is brownish gray on top and pale brown below. Male Indigo Buntings resemble females during their autumn molt, taking on brown feathers in place of the bright blue plumage they wore during the breeding season. The Indigo Bunting breeds across much of the eastern United States and southern Canada south to central Florida and Texas. This species also breeds locally west of the plains as far as California and the southwest. In winter, Indigo Buntings may be found in south Florida, southern Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies. Indigo Buntings breed in forest edges and clearings of open deciduous woodlands. During the winter, this species may be found in tropical grassland and scrubland. Indigo Buntings primarily eat insects during the summer, adding seeds and berries to their diet in the winter. In appropriate habitat, Indigo Buntings may be seen foraging for food in shrubs and low tree branches. Birdwatchers may also listen for this species’ song, a series of paired notes vaguely recalling that of a finch. Indigo Buntings are primarily active during the day.

    Threat Status: Least Concern

    Passerina cyanea
    provided by EOL authors

    A small (5 ½ inches) bunting, the male Indigo Bunting is most easily identified by its bright blue body, dark wings and tail, and small conical bill. The female Indigo Bunting is brownish gray on top and pale brown below. Male Indigo Buntings resemble females during their autumn molt, taking on brown feathers in place of the bright blue plumage they wore during the breeding season. The Indigo Bunting breeds across much of the eastern United States and southern Canada south to central Florida and Texas. This species also breeds locally west of the plains as far as California and the southwest. In winter, Indigo Buntings may be found in south Florida, southern Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies. Indigo Buntings breed in forest edges and clearings of open deciduous woodlands. During the winter, this species may be found in tropical grassland and scrubland. Indigo Buntings primarily eat insects during the summer, adding seeds and berries to their diet in the winter. In appropriate habitat, Indigo Buntings may be seen foraging for food in shrubs and low tree branches. Birdwatchers may also listen for this species’ song, a series of paired notes vaguely recalling that of a finch. Indigo Buntings are primarily active during the day.

Comprehensive Description

    Indigo bunting
    provided by wikipedia

    The indigo bunting (Passerina cyanea) is a small seed-eating bird in the cardinal family, Cardinalidae. It is migratory, ranging from southern Canada to northern Florida during the breeding season, and from southern Florida to northern South America during the winter.[2] It often migrates by night, using the stars to navigate.[3] Its habitat is farmland, brush areas, and open woodland.[4] The indigo bunting is closely related to the lazuli bunting and interbreeds with the species where their ranges overlap.

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    Quintana, Texas, spring migration
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    Quintana, Texas, female

    The indigo bunting is a small bird, with a length of 11.5–13 cm (4.5–5.1 in). It displays sexual dimorphism in its coloration; the male is a vibrant blue in the summer and a brown color during the winter months, while the female is brown year-round. The male displays brightly colored plumage during the breeding season to attract a mate. Nest-building and incubation are done solely by the female. The diet of the indigo bunting consists primarily of insects during the summer months and seeds during the winter months.

    Taxonomy

    The indigo bunting is included in the family Cardinalidae, which is made up of passerine birds found in North and South America, and is one of seven birds in the genus Passerina.[5] It was originally described as Tanagra cyanea by Linnaeus in his 18th-century work, Systema Naturae. The current genus name, Passerina, is derived from the Latin term passer for true sparrows and similar small birds,[6] while the species name, cyanea, is from the Latin word meaning dark or sea blue.[7]

    The indigo bunting is a close relative of the lazuli bunting and interbreeds with the species where their ranges overlap, in the Great Plains.[8] They were declared to form a superspecies by the American Ornithologists' Union in 1983.[9] However, according to sequencing of the mitochondrial cytochrome-b gene of members of the genus Passerina, it was determined that the indigo bunting and lazuli bunting are not, in fact, sister taxa. The indigo bunting is the sister of two sister groups, a "blue" (lazuli bunting and blue grosbeak) and a "painted" (Rosita's bunting, orange-breasted bunting, varied bunting, and painted bunting) clade. This genetic study shows these species diverged between 4.1 and 7.3 million years ago. This timing, which is consistent with fossil evidence, coincides with a late-Miocene cooling, which caused the evolution of a variety of western grassland habitats. Evolving to reduce size may have allowed buntings to exploit grass seeds as a food source.[10]

    Description

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    Juvenile male indigo bunting at Smith Oaks Sanctuary, High Island

    The indigo bunting is a smallish songbird, around the size of a small sparrow. It measures 11.5–15 cm (4.5–5.9 in) long, with a wingspan of 18–23 cm (7.1–9.1 in).[11][2] Body mass averages 14.5 g (0.51 oz), with a reported range of 11.2–21.4 g (0.40–0.75 oz).[12] During the breeding season, the adult male appears mostly a vibrant cerulean blue. Only the head is indigo. The wings and tail are black with cerulean blue edges. In fall and winter plumage, the male has brown edges to the blue body and head feathers, which overlap to make the bird appear mostly brown. The adult female is brown on the upperparts and lighter brown on the underparts. It has indistinct wing bars and is faintly streaked with darker markings underneath.[13] The immature bird resembles the female in coloring, although a male may have hints of blue on the tail and shoulders and have darker streaks on the underside. The beak is short and conical. In the adult female, the beak is light brown tinged with blue, and in the adult male the upper half is brownish-black while the lower is light blue.[14] The feet and legs are black or gray.[15]

    Distribution and habitat

    The habitat of the indigo bunting is brushy forest edges, open deciduous woods, second growth woodland, and farmland.[4] The breeding range stretches from southern Canada to Maine, south to northern Florida and eastern Texas, and westward to southern Nevada. The winter range begins in southern Florida and central Mexico and stretches south through the West Indies and Central America to northern South America.[2] It has occurred as a vagrant in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Denmark, Ecuador, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands, the Netherlands Antilles, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Serbia and the United Kingdom.[1]

    Behavior

    The indigo bunting communicates through vocalizations and visual cues. A sharp chip! call is used by both sexes, and is used as an alarm call if a nest or chick is threatened. A high-pitched, buzzed zeeep is used as a contact call when the indigo bunting is in flight.[16] The song of the male bird is a high-pitched buzzed sweet-sweet chew-chew sweet-sweet, lasting two to four seconds, sung to mark his territory to other males and to attract females. Each male has a single complex song,[15] which he sings while perched on elevated objects, such as posts, wires, and bush-tops.[17] In areas where the ranges of the lazuli bunting and the indigo bunting overlap, the males defend territories from each another.[18] Migration takes place in April and May and then again in September and October.[2] The indigo bunting often migrates during the night, using the stars to navigate.[3] In captivity, since it cannot migrate, it experiences disorientation in April and May and in September and October if it cannot see the stars from its enclosure.[2]

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    Breeding

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    A male in breeding plumage

    These birds are generally monogamous but not always faithful to their partner. In the western part of their range, they often hybridize with the lazuli bunting. Nesting sites are located in dense shrub or a low tree, generally 0.3–1 m (0.98–3.28 ft) above the ground, but rarely up to 9 m (30 ft).[18] The nest itself is constructed of leaves, coarse grasses, stems, and strips of bark, lined with soft grass or deer hair and is bound with spider web. It is constructed by the female, who cares for the eggs alone.[18] The clutch consists of one to four eggs, but usually contains three to four. The eggs are white and usually unmarked, though some may be marked with brownish spots, averaging 18.7 mm × 13.7 mm (0.74 in × 0.54 in) in size.[19] The eggs are incubated for 12 to 13 days and the chicks are altricial at hatching.[2] Chicks fledge 10 to 12 days after hatching. Most pairs raise two broods per year, and the male may feed newly fledged young while the females incubate the next clutch of eggs.[20]

    The brown-headed cowbird may parasitize this species.[11] Indigo buntings abandon their nest if a cowbird egg appears before they lay any of their own eggs, but accept the egg after that point. Pairs with parasitized nests have less reproductive success. The bunting chicks hatch, but have lower survival rates as they must compete with the cowbird chick for food.[21]

    Diet

    The indigo bunting forages for food on the ground or in trees or shrubs.[18] In winter, it often feeds in flocks with other indigo buntings, but is a solitary feeder during the breeding season.[15] During the breeding season, the species eats insects, seeds and berries, including caterpillars, grasshoppers, spiders, beetles, and grass seeds. The seeds of grasses are the mainstay of its diet during the winter, although buds, and insects are eaten when available. The young are fed mainly insects at first, to provide them with protein.[18] The indigo bunting does not drink frequently, generally obtaining sufficient water from its diet.[15]

    Status

    The species is classified as being of least concern according to the IUCN, with an estimated range of 5,900,000 km2 (2,300,000 sq mi) and a population of 28 million individuals. Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for a population decline warranting an upgrade in conservation status.[1] The criteria for a change in conservation status are a decline of more than 30% in ten years or over three generations.[1]

    References

    1. ^ a b c d BirdLife International (2012). "Passerina cyanea". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013..mw-parser-output cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output q{quotes:"""""'"'"}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-free a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/65/Lock-green.svg/9px-Lock-green.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d6/Lock-gray-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-gray-alt-2.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/aa/Lock-red-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-red-alt-2.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}
    2. ^ a b c d e f "Indigo Bunting". All About Birds. Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 2003. Retrieved 2008-07-12.
    3. ^ a b Emlen, Stephen T. (October 1967). "Migratory Orientation in the Indigo Bunting, Passerina cyanea – Part II: Mechanism of Celestial Orientation" (pdf). The Auk. 84 (4): 463–89. doi:10.2307/4083330. Retrieved 2008-07-12.
    4. ^ a b Sibley, Charles Gald; Burt Leavelle Monroe (1991). Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World. Yale University Press. p. 775. ISBN 0-300-04969-2.
    5. ^ "Passerina cyanea". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2008-07-12.
    6. ^ Whitaker, William. "Passer". Words by William Whitaker. Retrieved 2008-07-12.
    7. ^ Whitaker, William. "Cyanea". Words by William Whitaker. Retrieved 2008-07-12.
    8. ^ Sharpe, Roger S.; W. Ross Silcock; Joel G. Jorgensen (2001). Birds of Nebraska: Their Distribution and Temporal Occurrence. University of Nebraska Press. p. 430. ISBN 0-8032-4289-1.
    9. ^ Campbell, Robert Wayne (2001). The Birds of British Columbia. UBC Press. p. 184. ISBN 0-7748-0621-4.
    10. ^ Klicka, J; Fry AJ; Zink RM; Thompson CW (April 2001). "A Cytochrome-b Perspective on Passerina Bunting Relationships" (PDF). The Auk. 118 (3): 610–623. doi:10.1642/0004-8038(2001)118[0610:ACBPOP]2.0.CO;2. Retrieved 14 July 2008.
    11. ^ a b Terres, J. K. (1980). The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds. New York, NY: Knopf. p. 290. ISBN 0-394-46651-9.
    12. ^ CRC Handbook of Avian Body Masses by John B. Dunning Jr. (Editor). CRC Press (1992), ISBN 978-0-8493-4258-5.
    13. ^ Gough, Gregory (2003). "Passerina cyanea". USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Retrieved 2008-07-12.
    14. ^ "Passerina cyanea". Audubon Society. 2003. Retrieved 2008-07-29.
    15. ^ a b c d Zumberg, R (1999). "Passerina cyanea". Animal Diversity Web. University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. Retrieved 2008-07-12.
    16. ^ Eliott, Lang (2004). Know Your Bird Sounds. Stackpole Books. p. 23. ISBN 0-8117-2964-8.
    17. ^ Kaufman, Kenneth (2001). Birds of North America. HMCo Field Guides. p. 366. ISBN 0-618-13219-8.
    18. ^ a b c d e Kaufman, Kenneth (2001). Lives of North American Birds. HMCo Field Guides. p. 569. ISBN 0-618-15988-6.
    19. ^ Harrison, Hal H. (2001). A Field Guide to Western Birds' Nests. HMCo Field Guides. p. 231. ISBN 0-618-16437-5.
    20. ^ Fergus, Charles (2000). Wildlife of Pennsylvania and the Northeast. Stackpole Books. pp. 316–317. ISBN 0-8117-2899-4.
    21. ^ Johnsgard, Paul A. (1997). The Avian Brood Parasites: Deception at the Nest. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 349. ISBN 0-19-511042-0.

Distribution

    Distribution
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Indigo buntings (Passerina cyanea) breed throughout eastern North America from the Great Plains eastward, south of the coniferous forest region. There are also some breeding populations in the western United States, including Utah, Arizona and California. Indigo buntings winter in the coastal regions of Mexico, Central America, northern South America and the Caribbean.

    Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); neotropical (Native )

Morphology

    Morphology
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Adult male indigo buntings are brilliant blue during the breeding season, with a darker almost purple crown. Females and young are brown with buff wingbars and only a tinge of blue on their tail and shoulders. Indigo buntings are small birds, from 11.5 cm to13 cm long and weighing 12 to 18 g. They have short, conical beaks and black or gray legs and feet. (Payne 1992, Robbins, Bruun and Zim 1983)

    Range mass: 12 to 18 g.

    Range length: 11.5 to 13 cm.

    Sexual Dimorphism: sexes colored or patterned differently; male more colorful

    Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Habitat

    Habitat
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Indigo buntings breed in brushy and weedy habitats along the edges of farmed land, woods, road, power lines, railways and riparian habitats. They also breed in clearings in open deciduous woodlands, in weedy or abandoned agricultural fields, and in swamps. During migration they look for open grasslands and leafy trees similar to those in their winter habitat. In winter, indigo buntings choose open habitats, such as weedy fields, citrus orchards, savannas, weedy croplands and low second growth (Payne 1992).

    Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical

    Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest

    Wetlands: swamp

    Other Habitat Features: agricultural ; riparian

Trophic Strategy

    Trophic Strategy
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    During the breeding season, indigo buntings eat small spiders and insects, seeds of grasses and herbs, and berries. Major food items taken include caterpillars, grasshoppers, bugs, beetles, seeds and berries. In winter, indigo buntings eat small seeds, buds, and some insects. Their main food in winter is small seeds of grasses. They also frequent feeders, and eat the seeds of rice in rice fields. Indigo buntings do not appear to drink frequently, and may obtain sufficient water from their diet. (Payne 1992)

    Indigo buntings feed alone during the breeding season and in flocks during the winter. They do not appear to store food for later consumption. (Payne 1992)

    Animal Foods: insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods

    Plant Foods: seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit

    Primary Diet: omnivore

Associations

    Associations
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Perching birds (order Passeriformes) as a group play an important role in the earth's ecosystems. They consume many varieties and amounts of food and serve as food for others and hosts for parasites (Britannica, 1986). Indigo buntings affect the populations of the insects they eat, and help distribute seeds of the plants whose berries they eat. They also host at least one parasite; hippoboscid flies (Payne 1992).

    Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds

    Associations
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Although predation of adult indigo buntings surely occurs, specific predators have not been identified. Brooding females, eggs and young are vulnerable to predation from climbing predators, including raccoons, opossum, red fox, feral cats, blue jays and blue racers.

    When a predator approaches a nest, adult buntings may feign injury and make a chip-chip-chip call to distract the predator and lure them away from the nest. They do not mob predators.

    Known Predators:

    • Virginia opossums (Didelphis virginiana)
    • red foxes (Vulpes vulpes)
    • feral cats (Felis silvestris)
    • blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata)
    • blue racers (Coluber constrictor)
    • raccoons (Procyon lotor)

Behavior

    Behavior
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Indigo buntings use vocalizations and visual cues to communicate. Only male indigo buntings sing. Each male has one complex song that it sings, during the breeding season to advertise occupancy of a territory to other males and to attract females. Males may also court females by performing displays, such as the display in which a male struts in circles in front of a female with his wings spread and his head crouched.

    Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic

    Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Life Expectancy

    Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
    provided by AnAge articles
    Maximum longevity: 11 years (wild)
    Life Expectancy
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Indigo buntings can live up to 10 years in the wild.

    Range lifespan
    Status: wild:
    10 (high) years.

    Average lifespan
    Status: wild:
    111 months.

Reproduction

    Reproduction
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Indigo buntings are socially monogamous. However, pairs only associate until incubation begins, and may switch partners within a single breeding season. Fertilizations outside of a breeding pair are not uncommon and approximately 15% of males have more than one mate.

    Males do not sing often in courtship, but they do follow their mate around during the nest building and laying periods, often chasing other males away.

    Mating System: monogamous

    Indigo buntings breed between May and September, with most activity occurring June through August. They may raise more than one brood per season, and may switch nests or mates between broods. The female chooses the nest site and builds the nest, which may take up to eight days. Nests are built in shrubs in fields or at the edges of woods, roadsides and railways. They are constructed of leaves, grasses, stems and strips of bark. After the nest is complete, the female lays 1 to 4 (usually 3 or 4) white eggs. One egg is laid each day, soon after sunrise. The female begins incubating after the last egg is laid. Incubation lasts for 11 to 14 (usually 12 to 13) days.

    The female broods the altricial chicks for the first few days after they hatch. She also feeds the chicks insects and removes their fecal sacs from the nest. The chicks leave the nest 8 to 14 days after hatching, and become independent about 3 weeks after fledging. Indigo buntings are sexually mature at one year old.

    Breeding interval: Indigo buntings breed between May and September, with most activity occurring June through August.

    Breeding season: Indigo buntings may raise more than one brood per season, and may switch nests or mates between broods.

    Range eggs per season: 1 to 4.

    Average eggs per season: 3.5.

    Range time to hatching: 11 to 14 days.

    Average time to hatching: 12-13 days.

    Range fledging age: 8 to 14 days.

    Average time to independence: 3 weeks.

    Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 1 (low) years.

    Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 1 (low) years.

    Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous

    Average eggs per season: 4.

    The male does not generally help with incubation or raising the chicks. The female chooses the nest site and builds the nest. She broods the altricial chicks for the first few days after they hatch, feeds them insects and removes their fecal sacs from the nest. The chicks leave the nest 8 to 14 days after hatching, and become independent about 3 weeks after fledging.

    Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)

Conservation Status

    Conservation Status
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Indigo buntings appear to be increasing in geographic range and density. They are protected under the U.S. Migratory Bird Act, but not under CITES or the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

    Indigo buntings are occasionally killed for sport and food. They are also a popular cage bird in Europe and Mexico. (Payne, 1992)

    US Migratory Bird Act: protected

    US Federal List: no special status

    CITES: no special status

    State of Michigan List: no special status

    IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

Benefits

    Benefits
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    There are no known adverse affects of indigo buntings on humans.

    Benefits
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    There is apparent aesthetic importance of songbirds like the Indigo bunting to bird watchers and listeners. This brightly colored species is commonly kept as a cage bird (Britannica, 1986).