Lazuli Bunting - A Small Bundle of Color

by Dave Hanks

It’s only 5 ½ inches long and is sometimes confused with the larger Western Bluebird. This small blue, white, and rust-colored bird is a welcome addition to bird-seed feeders. In addition to regular bird-seed mix, they love black-oil sunflower seeds, which they are adept at opening. They also come to peanut butter. A board with shallow holes drilled in it, like a punch-board, works well on which to spread the peanut butter.

Late April to the first of June sees them in our yard. They are one of the first migrants to arrive, and they herald the start of the arrival of the rest of the species that frequent our feeders in the spring. By the first of June, they have moved to their late spring and summer breeding spots. They seem to prefer mountain riparian zones, where they can be seen and heard singing in plain view from the tops of streamside trees. Their song is a high-pitched, rambling warble made up of several phrases, each on a different pitch level.

The male has white on the belly and wings, a rusty chest, and a pleasing blue head and back. In winter he will show some brown on his back, neck, and wing-tips. The female is a soft tan color. Their eastern counterpart is the Indigo Bunting, which is totally dark blue. The Lazuli and Indigo will hybridize where their ranges overlap between the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains. Hybrids do not possess the rusty chest.

Buntings lay 2 to 6 eggs, after a courting flight known as the “sexual chase”. The male rushes the female in a headlong, twisting and turning pursuit. When he catches her, they tumble to the ground and engage in a fluttering, tumbling brawl.

This small bird is a delightful bundle of color.

(Waiting & watching for a chance at the seed tray)