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Monday, April 02, 2012

Lazuli Bunting in Florida

We just saw this Lazuli Bunting, 1st year male, at a feeder in Ft. Myers, Florida, where he is not supposed to be. Lazuli Buntings are usually a western species, but can sometimes be found out of their range, so be on the lookout. Lazuli Bunting males can look like this in their first year. They eventually will turn into the brilliant colors of the breeding adult male who has a turquoise head, back, wings, 2 white wing bars, orangish breast, and white below. Here's a link to a photo of an adult.

Here's a back view, you can see the blue on his rump.

 The blue is on his face, throat, wings, rump and tail, but not much on back and head and not much color on the breast. Even now, the wingbars are prominent, although dull.    

For comparison, here's a photo of a first year male Indigo Bunting, a species the Lazuli Bunting may be confused with. We saw this Indigo Bunting recently at a feeder in mid-Florida. This one has much blue growing in over the breast and underparts.

Here's another first year male Indigo Bunting who looks like he's been in a paint ball fight! Big splotches of blue are all over, but no prominent wingbars, or pale beige breast with white below like the first year male Lazuli Bunting. As an adult, this first year male Indigo Bunting eventually will look like

this beautiful adult male Indigo Bunting, who was at the same feeder, and who is brilliant blue all over.
Female Lazuli Buntings and female Indigo Buntings are mainly brownish with a faint blue tint to rump and wing coverts, but the female Indigo Bunting has faint blurry streaking on breast and a more contrasting whitish throat. Even adult Indigos and Lazulis will have some brownish edges to feathers of  their upperparts during non-breeding. Buntings are fun and Florida is a great place to see them at feeders in winter. For more extensive information and photos of the plumages of Lazuli and Indigo Buntings see our new, The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America.

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