Lazuli Bunting Passerina amoena
Description ADULT BREEDING MALE Has blue hood and back and darker blue-gray wings with two white wing bars. Breast is orangebuff with faint wash on flanks; underparts are otherwise white. ADULT NONBREEDING MALE Similar, but colors are less intense and blue elements of plumage are blotched brown (brown feather edges). ADULT FEMALE Has mostly gray-buff upperparts with bluish rump, darker tail, and two pale wing bars. Has buff wash on breast (brightest in nonbreeding birds) grading to otherwise whitish underparts. JUVENILE Recalls adult female, but warmer buff; by first spring, male has acquired some of adult's blue coloration.
Dimensions Length: 5-5 1/2" (13-14 cm)
Habitat Locally common summer visitor (mainly May-Aug) to brushy deciduous woodland margins, often near water; winters in Mexico.
Observation Tips Easy to see. Flocks seen prior to migration are impressive.
Range Texas, Southwest, California, Rocky Mountains, Plains, Northwest, Southeast, Western Canada
Voice Song is a varied mix of sweet, whistling phrases; call is a sharp tchht.
Discussion Colorful bunting that replaces Indigo in western North America. Sometimes perches on roadside fence wires and twitches tail in an agitated manner. Forms large flocks outside breeding season; these concentrate at migration hotspots (e.g. in southern Arizona), where partial molt occurs. Sexes are dissimilar.
Migration Info The migration of this species is divided into two distinct movements, one along the U.S. west coast and the other through the Great Basin and the Rockies. Birds move along the coast quite rapidly during the month of April, but those that migrate inland move through later, and some don't arrive in the northernmost portion of their breeding range until early June. If you are lucky enough to live where you can listen to Lazuli Buntings when they first arrive in spring, you may hear a distinct change as the young males learn their local dialect, and each develops a unique sound. First-year males arrive in the breeding area without a song. They piece together song fragments from other males they hear for a few days, and then settle on their own song, which they will use exclusively for the rest of their lives. This is one of the reasons that it is so difficult to characterize the song of this species; each population tends to have a "neighborhood" dialect.