I haven’t had much luck finding or photographing Indigo Buntings in the wild, despite the fact they are common and widespread. My friends who feed the birds say they come to their feeders all the time and I’m sure they do, but finding one to photograph in the wild has been far more difficult for me. The reason may be in deep shade or backlit they don’t look blue…rather a blue-gray. Sunlight has to hit then just right to reflect indigo blue.
I heard this Indigo Bunting singing while riding along the Ozaukee Interurban Bike Trail. Indio Buntings sing all day long, so if you recognize their song, they are easier to find. He flew away when I approached, but not far away. That gave me a clue that I may be in his territory and he might come around again, if I returned with my camera. I came back and so did he.
Indio Buntings migrate to and from Central America, mainly at night, using the stars to find their way. When they get here they prefer weedy, brushy habitats on the edges of fields and along railroad tracks to make their nests. The male establishes a territory early in the spring when there is little to eat except for tree buds.
The brownish female arrives later. She is a warm brown color and is hard to distinguish from other sparrow-like birds, except for her stout beak. The nest, built solely by the female, consists of fine grasses, leaves and bark and is held together with spider webs.
This male undoubtedly had something to defend in the lower vegetation along the bike trail; otherwise he would not have consistently challenged me. He bounced from branch to branch, crisscrossing over my head, objecting to my presence. I didn’t want to annoy him, so after he gave me a few good pictures, I left him in peace.
July 24, 2012