Photo: Brian E. Small/Vireo

Lazuli Bunting

Passerina amoena

Around thickets and streamside trees of the West, this sky-blue bunting is common in summer. Males are conspicuous in summer, singing in the open, but the plainer brown females are far more elusive as they tend their nests in the thick bushes. During migration, flocks are more easily observed as they forage in brushy fields. Where Lazuli and Indigo buntings overlap in breeding range, on the Great Plains and parts of the Southwest, they often interbreed.
Conservation status Widespread and common, numbers apparently stable.
Family Cardinals, Grosbeaks and Buntings
Habitat Open brush, streamside shrubs. Breeds in brushy areas with open grassy ground nearby, such as patches of scrub oak, chaparral, streamside thickets, sometimes in areas of sagebrush or pinyon-juniper woods. In migration and winter, occurs in weedy fields, open woods, brushy places.
Around thickets and streamside trees of the West, this sky-blue bunting is common in summer. Males are conspicuous in summer, singing in the open, but the plainer brown females are far more elusive as they tend their nests in the thick bushes. During migration, flocks are more easily observed as they forage in brushy fields. Where Lazuli and Indigo buntings overlap in breeding range, on the Great Plains and parts of the Southwest, they often interbreed.
Photo Gallery
  • adult male, breeding
  • adult female, breeding
  • juvenile male
  • adult male, nonbreeding
Feeding Behavior

Forages mainly on the ground, also up in low growth. May bend grass stalks down to the ground to eat the seeds from them. Sometimes takes insects from foliage while hovering.


Eggs

3-5, usually 4. Pale bluish white, unmarked. Incubation is by female only, about 12 days. Young: At some nests, nestlings are fed entirely by the female, although at others the male helps to feed them. Young leave the nest about 10-12 days after hatching. Male may feed the young more after they fledge, while female begins second nesting attempt. 2 broods per year, perhaps sometimes 3.


Young

At some nests, nestlings are fed entirely by the female, although at others the male helps to feed them. Young leave the nest about 10-12 days after hatching. Male may feed the young more after they fledge, while female begins second nesting attempt. 2 broods per year, perhaps sometimes 3.

Diet

Mostly seeds and insects. More than half of summer diet may be insects, including grasshoppers, caterpillars, beetles, true bugs, wild bees, ants, and others. Also eats many seeds, mainly those of grasses, also weed seeds and waste grain; seeds may make up most of winter diet. Young are fed mostly insects.


Nesting

Male sings to defend nesting territory. Where Lazuli and Indigo buntings overlap in range, they will defend territories against each other. Nest: Placed in shrubs, vines, or low trees, usually 2-4' above the ground, firmly attached to vertical stems or to forked branch. Nest (built by female) is an open cup of grass, weeds, leaves, lined with fine grass and sometimes animal hair.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Fall migration begins early, with many birds on the move by late July. Migrants stray east of breeding range on Great Plains, especially in spring.

Download Our Bird Guide App

Migration

Fall migration begins early, with many birds on the move by late July. Migrants stray east of breeding range on Great Plains, especially in spring.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
A high-pitched, excited series of warbled phrases, the first notes usually repeated, descending the scale and ascending again at the end; similar to song of Indigo Bunting, but phrases less distinct and only the first phrases repeated.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.

Explore Similar Birds