Buntings

Our bright spring birds have been showing up the last two or three weeks. Among them have been these lazuli buntings, that have been regular visitors here for the last three years.  Late last week we noticed that some of the buntings appeared to be “too” blue.

Looking a little closer we saw that they were all blue – indigo buntings.

Like the blue jays I posted about last fall, the indigo bunting is a bird I remember seeing when I was growing up in Tennessee that I didn’t expect to see out here at the western edge of its range. The two species seem to be coming in to our feeders in mixed flocks. After doing a little checking I have seen that these species sometimes hybridize out here where their ranges overlap. I have seen one individual (no pic, alas) that is likely a hybrid – he looks just like the indigo bunting, but has a white breast. 

6 thoughts on “Buntings”

  1. I would guess yes. Many east- west pairs are close, & have been combined & separated; Bullocks & Baltimore orioles, these buntings. Some look closer but seem more divided by song etc– E & W meadowlarks. There are two big- population flickers, yellow and red- shafted, but the visually "combined" gilded lives in AZ, outside any overlap.

    Then there are Empids, separated by song. The western and Clarke's grebes– both winter here.

    We will not mention the possible six or seven or ?? "species" of red crossbill, some impossible to separate in the field but genetically distinct and apparently with different habits– will blog sometime though…

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