It’s not a bluebird or a blue jay, but the indigo bunting is one of the bluest birds you will see in North America. Male indigo buntings boast vibrant blue plumage with accents of black while the females are a duller color.
Indigo buntings, which are abundant across the United States and Canada, prefer grassy fields, open meadows, and parks. With the conditions, the indigo buntings might even spend time in your gardens and lawn.
Here are 7 ways you can attract indigo buntings to your home.
1. Tempt Indigo Buntings With Seeds
Indigo buntings are predominantly granivores, meaning the bulk of their diet is seeds and grains. If you want to see more of these brilliant birds in your yard, tempt them with seeds.
Among their favorites are white proso millet, black oil sunflower seeds, Nyjer, the long, black seeds of African yellow daisies. Hulled sunflower seeds work, too.
2. Scatter The Seeds For Indigo Buntings
Indigo buntings forage for seeds on the ground, therefore if you want to invite them to visit your yard, forgo the fancy bird feeders – at least temporarily – and scatter the seeds on the ground.
For much of their time, particularly during breeding season, the indigo buntings are most comfortable searching for their food on the ground.
3. Hang Feeders During Migration Time
During late fall, indigo buntings begin their migration south to spend the winter in Florida, Mexico, and Central America.
During their migration, their foraging habits change. The indigo bunting is more likely to look to backyard feeders for a ready supply of seeds.
Don’t be too quick to put your feeders away for the winter. Keep them in place and fully stocked with millet and sunflower seeds for the indigo buntings.
4. Offer Indigo Buntings A Water Source
Indigo buntings need access to clean, fresh water.
When they find a good water source, they tend to remember it. They will visit it again and again.
You can make your garden a place the indigo buntings want to return to by maintaining a bird bath or other water feature.
5. Grow Seed-Bearing Plants
Since indigo buntings’ favorite foods are seeds, add landscaping plants to your garden that will produce an abundance of seeds.
Sunflowers, daisies, purple coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, asters, and marigolds are all seeds that will attract indigo buntings.
6. Model Your Garden Like A Natural Habitat
The best way to invite indigo buntings and other birds to your yard is to create a garden the mimics the birds’ natural habitat. Stick with only native plant species and resist the urge to use chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.
Include tall grasses. Add in hedges and bushes that can offer shelter and protection for the birds.
Include berry-producers, like shrubs and vines. Although indigo buntings eat mostly seeds, they also enjoy occasional berries, as well as insects like grasshoppers, aphids, and beetles.
7. Make Your Yard Nest-Friendly
Indigo buntings build their nests in low shrubs and hedges, just a few feet off the ground. If you add these to your landscaping, you will greatly increase the chances of an indigo bunting mama building her nest in your yard.
Make sure your yard has plenty of materials for the mother indigo bunting to use when constructing her nest. Key among these are spider webs.
She uses spider webs to hold together the grasses, leaves, and plant the stems with which she builds her nest.
Don’t be too eager to rid your yard and garden of spider webs when you notice them. They are the glue that the indigo bunting needs to bind together her nesting material.
Bright, social, and happy, the indigo bunting is a welcome sight in any yard. As seed foragers, though, they prefer to pick their food off the ground, so don’t expect them to be frequent visitors to your backyard feeders, except during their migrations.
You can, however, encourage the vibrant blue birds to stick around your home by providing an array of seeds, planting seed-producing landscaping plants, and adding bushes, shrubs, and hedges to your yard.