Indigo Buntings prefer to breed in scrubby habitats, in hedgerows, open woods and along
forest edges. The nest, built by the female, is a well made cup of dry grasses and weeds
and a piece of snake skin woven into the structure. It is usually located in a low bush,
small tree or in tall weeds. Three to four eggs, incubated by the female, hatch in just
under two weeks. Young are cared for by the female, but the male may assist while the
female re-nests. Two to three broods may be raised in one season.
The Bird Banding Lab web site reports that between 1955 and 1997, a total of 124,153 Indigo Buntings were banded. Of these, 312
have been recovered, a recovery rate of 0.25%. Banding studies show that Indigo buntings
are short to medium distance migrants, and can live up to 8 years in the wild.
If you should recover a banded bird, please report the band number to the
Bird Banding Lab by calling 1-800-327-BAND.
Indigo Bunting populations are declining. Many fatalities occur when buntings, which
migrate at night, collide with tall buildings, radio towers and other structures. Loss of
suitable breeding and wintering habitat is also a factor. Where suitable habitat occurs,
however, Indigo Buntings can readily be found.
Indigo Buntings perform a valuable service as they consume grasshoppers,
beetles, cankerworms, flies, mosquitoes, cicadas, weevils and aphids. Diet
also consists of seeds of raspberries, grasses, thistle, goldenrod, dandelions and other
weed seeds. It is well worth the effort to provide suitable brushy habitat and shrubby
forest edges to assure a healthy population of these attractive little songsters.
Back to Top | Back to Bird
All images are courtesy of CWBO. All image copyrights are owned by CWBO.
Any use of these images must have permission of CWBO.