Family Cardinals (Cardinalidae)

Least Concern

Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)


French: Passerin indigo German: Indigofink Spanish: Azulillo índigo

Tanagra cyanea


, 1766,

South Carolina


Often treated as conspecific with P. amoena and the two hybridize extensively. Hybrids reported rarely also with P. ciris and, in captivity, with P. leclancherii; has hybridized also with captive domestic Island Canary (Serinus canaria). Monotypic.


E North America, from S Canada (SE Saskatchewan and S Manitoba E to S New Brunswick) S in USA to W Kansas and C Texas across to Gulf Coast and E seaboard, also W into New Mexico and Arizona, and rarely to S Utah and S California; possible breeding record in Cuba#R. Migrates to Central America from C Mexico (S Tamaulipas) S to C Panama and West Indies.

Descriptive notes

14–15 cm; male 12·5–17·5 g, female 11·9–18·5 g (Michigan, in N USA). Male breeding has crown deep indigo, becoming more blue on... read more


Song, usually from prominent elevated perch, more rarely in flight, a loud, cheerful series of... read more


Woodland edge, bushy areas and successional bush along roadsides, riverside vegetation, clearings... read more

Food and feeding

Diet varies during year. In winter predominantly vegetable matter, including weed and grass seeds, rice and similar items. During breeding... read more


Egg dates mid-May to mid-Aug, rarely later, in N of range (Ontario and Michigan), somewhat earlier in S; up to four clutches in a season (... read more


Migratory; essentially no overlap between breeding and wintering ranges. Nocturnal migrant. Autumn... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common to abundant over much of its range; in some areas (e.g. Kentucky and Tennessee) regarded as the most common nesting bird.... read more

Recommended citation

Brewer, D. (2019). Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 23 August 2019).