Discover the Indigo Bunting Nesting and Feeding Habits, Its Songs/Calls

One of the habits of the Indigo Bunting bird is his persistent singing. Singing well into the summer when most birds have fallen silent.

I would rarely get a glimpse of this bird if it wasn't for hearing him singing at the top of a tree.

While this bird appears to love singing, he's not especially melodic. One song may sound like another, but individual birds vary greatly in melody and sequence.

Male Indigo Bunting on Shrub

Indigo Bunting in Shrub

Indigo Bunting Songs and Call

One of the best ways to locate these birds is to learn the song as you'll usually hear them before seeing them.

The Song: The Indigo Bunting's song is a series of rich, melodic notes that are often described as a jumbled, warbling phrase.

It is characterized by its high-pitched, musical quality. The song consists of short, clear, and rapid notes that are delivered in a cascading manner.

The male sings with great enthusiasm and can produce a varied repertoire of songs.

The melody often contains several introductory notes followed by a rapid series of high-pitched, slurred notes, ending with a distinct downward or upward note.

The Calls:

Apart from its song, the Indigo Bunting also produces various calls. These calls serve as contact calls, alarms, or communication signals.

Chip Call: The chip call is a short, sharp "chip" or "tik" sound. It is often used for short-distance communication between individuals or as an alarm call when the bird senses potential danger.

Chatter Call: The chatter call is a series of high-pitched, rapid, and repetitive notes that sound like a buzzing or chattering sound.

This call is usually made during aggressive encounters or territorial disputes.

Flight Call: The flight call is a distinct "pseep" or "seeep" sound that the Indigo Bunting emits during flight.

It is a short, single-note call used to maintain contact with other birds during movement.

Contact Call: The contact call is a soft, high-pitched, and mellow note used by individuals to stay in touch with each other, particularly when foraging in close proximity.


Measuring 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 inches in length and has a sparrow-like dark gray conical bill.

In summer, the male is dark blue overall. In winter the male is brownish with some blue on underparts. It takes the sun's light to see the iridescent blue of this bird.

The feathers don't contain any blue pigment but the diffracted sunlight gives the feathers the appearance of blue.

The female is a plain brown, with faint wing bars and faint streaking. Keeping this same plumage all year. Female Indigo can be difficult to find.

Their plain plumage and secretive nature during nesting make them hard to add to the birder's list.

Mating Habits

Not much is known about the Indigo Bunting's mating habits other than to say, singing from an uppermost perch is likely done to attract a prospective mate and protect his territory.

Nesting Habits

Indigo Bunting Perched on Tree Branch

Male Indigo Bunting in Tree

Nest site selection is done by the female and she alone builds the nest.

The nest is a well-made cup of grass, leaves, bark strips and lined with finer grasses and downy material.

Located 5 to 15 feet above the ground in a bush, small tree, or tangle.

The female lays 3 to 4 bluish unmarked eggs. Incubation is done by the female only and lasts about 12 to 13 days.

Once hatched, the female feeds the young. The male does not feed the female and helps little with the young.

Indigo Bunting Nesting Stats
Indigo Bunting Nesting Stats
Eggs 3 - 4
Incubation 12 - 13 days
Nestling Phase 9- 12 days
Broods 1 - 2

The young will leave the nest within 9 to 12 days (average) after hatching. These birds are very reluctant to approach the nest if humans are close by.

If you get near the nest they will give a "spit" call and flick their tail.

1 - 2 broods raised each year. Sometimes the male will still be feeding the first fledglings while the female begins building a second nest.

Feeding Habits

Indigo Buntings forage on the ground and in low foliage for insects such as spiders. Additional food sources for these birds include weed seeds, wild berries, and grain.

Listen to Indigo Bunting Give Calls


Predators of nestlings and eggs include snakes, raccoons, Blue Jays, and cats.


Indigo Buntings leave their wintering grounds and begin arriving on their breeding territories by late April - June.

The breeding season ends by September although most nests are completed by August. Southward migration occurs by October. They winter from s. Florida to n. South America.

indigo-bunting in treetop

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Birds and Blooms Pioneer Woman People Magazine First For Women