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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Indigo Bunting -- Passerina cyanea

RANGE: Breeds from southeastern Saskatchewan and northern Minnesota to southern New Brunswick, south to southern New Mexico, central and southeastern Texas, the Gulf Coast, and central Florida; locally in central Colorado, southwest Utah, central Arizona, and southern California. Winters primarily in southern Mexico, Cuba, and the West Indies south to Panama; also in southern Florida and infrequently in coastal Texas.

STATUS: Common in eastern range.

HABITAT: Generally associated with edges of woods, old burns, open brushy fields, roadside thickets, and brushy ravines. Tends to be more numerous along streams, and avoids deep woods.


NEST: Builds a cup nest 1 to 12 feet above the ground in a crotch of a bush, shrub, or low tree, in a tangle of berry vines, or in canebrakes. Frequently parasitized by brown-headed cowbird.

FOOD: Forages on or near the ground in shrubs, and eats a variety of foods, including insects, weed seeds, berries, and fruits.

REFERENCES: Bent 1968a, DeGraff et al. 1980, Forbush and May 1955, Harrison 1975.

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