Living Bird Magazine
Lazuli BuntingPasserina amoena
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Cardinalidae
The male Lazuli Bunting lights up dry brushy hillsides, thickets, and gardens throughout the West, flashing the blue of a lapis gemstone mixed with splashes of orange. He belts out his squeaky and jumbling song from atop shrubs to defend his territory. The softly colored female is often nearby teetering on tiny stems in a balancing act to reach seeds and other fare. This stocky finchlike bird is related to cardinals and grosbeaks and often visits bird feeders, especially those filled with white proso millet.More ID Info
Find This Bird
During the breeding season, a walk along a trail or road through brushy hillsides and chaparral might lead you to a Lazuli Bunting. Once you are in the right habitat, listen for their fast jumbling song and look high in tall shrubs for a singing male. Males tend to be quite vocal and defensive of their territories especially early in the breeding season. So to catch a singing male, be sure to go looking in April in the southern part of their range or in May in the northern part of their range. They'll be easier to hear in April through June, but these common birds are still fairly visible for the rest of the summer months. During the nonbreeding season scan weedy fields and look for small finchlike birds weighing down grass and weed stems while they eat seeds.
- Azulillo Lapislázuli (Spanish)
- Passerin azuré (French)
Lazuli Buntings frequent bird feeders, especially ones that offer white proso millet, sunflower seeds, or nyjer thistle seeds. Visit Project FeederWatch to learn more about what type of feeder and seed to use.
Create bird friendly habitat in your yard by planting native shrubs to provide foraging and even nesting opportunities for the Lazuli Bunting. Learn more about birdscaping at Habitat Network.
- Cool Facts
- Most species molt their feathers on either the breeding grounds or wintering grounds, but not the Lazuli Bunting. After breeding, they start molting some feathers but then migrate to the southwestern U.S. and northwestern Mexico, where insects are abundant following monsoon rains. They finish replacing their feathers in these “molting hotspots” before they head farther south for the winter.
- We recognize people by their voice and Lazuli Buntings may do the same thing. When young males copy older, nearby males, they create a kind of “song neighborhood” where songs from a particular area all sound similar. Males from the same neighborhood learn to recognize and tolerate each other. They respond more aggressively to unfamiliar songs that come from outside their neighborhood.
- The beauty of the Lazuli Bunting did not escape the early naturalist who named it Passerina amoena, meaning beautiful sparrow.
- Just like we each have our own voice, each male Lazuli Bunting sings a unique combination of notes. Yearling males generally arrive on the breeding grounds without a song of their own. Shortly after arriving, they create their own song by rearranging syllables and combining song fragments of several males. The song they put together is theirs for life.
- The oldest recorded Lazuli Bunting was a male, and at least 9 years, 1 month old when he was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Idaho in 1990. He had been banded in the same state in 1981.