|Species: Lazuli Bunting
The Lazuli Bunting, named because of the brilliant blue in its
plumage after the gemstone lapis lazuli, is a small songbird that,
although not common, can be found locally in the Vancouver area
during spring and summer. This bird breeds as far north as southern
BC to Saskatchewan, across the western US, and overwinters in
small, stocky bird with a short tail, rounded wings, and a small,
conical-shaped bill; averages 5.5” in length and 15.5 grams in
turquoise hood, back and rump, with black lores, rufous-coloured
breast, white belly and under-tail coverts. Has 2 white wing bars,
the upper broader and more prominent than lower wing bar; the wings
and tail themselves are dark but edged with the same bright
drab, grey-brown above, buffy and unstreaked underneath, and a
greyish throat. A delicate light-blue tone to wings, tail, and rump,
but the 2 buff-coloured wing-bars distinctive.
for the first winter and spring, the immature male has brown and
buff-tipped feathers blended into the pale-blue hood and back;
immature females resemble the adult female.
Western Bluebirds have a similar colour palette, but lack wing-bars,
are larger, and have a stout bill. Note that Lazuli Bunting
hybridizes with Indigo Bunting where range overlaps.
Males tend to sing from a high perch persistently during the day.
These songs are among the handful of those heard during the early
afternoon when many other songbirds are relatively quiet.
birds tend to prefer open woodland and riparian areas with low
trees, shrubs, bushes and weedy patches, often with elevated perches
nearby; residential gardens may also provide suitable habitat. Note
that this bird can be found at high elevations on occasion,
sometimes over 3000 metres!
Mature male Lazuli
Buntings have one song, which is unique to the individual bird.
Immature males arriving on the breeding grounds in their first
spring tend to not have a song of their own yet, but can copy the
songs of other nearby males. This results in 'song neighbourhoods',
where the songs of males in one area sound similar to each other,
but different from males elsewhere.
Building a small nest of grasses lined with fine hairs, usually in a
thick bush or shrub, Lazuli Buntings typically have a clutch of 3-5
pale blue eggs. Females incubate, but the male will somtimes help
feed the chicks. Although pairs are usually monogamous, polygany is
Lazuli Buntings eat invertebrates, seeds, and grains, gleaning
insects from shrubs or foraging on the ground, and sometimes
For the spring migration north, males usually arrive at their
breeding grounds slightly earlier than females, and the older birds
ahead of the younger ones. After the breeding season, Lazuli
Buntings begin their prebasic molt, but then interrupt it before
migrating south to certain stopover hotspots, like southern Arizona,
Baja, and New Mexico, where they complete their change in plumage
before moving on to their wintering grounds.
The Lazuli Bunting
currently maintains a status of Least Concern; however, it is
vulnerable to nest parasitism of Brown-headed Cowbirds, thus
lowering their reproductive success rates.
Actually preferring the more arid conditions of the
interior, Lazuli Bunting has been a usual summer resident at
Colony Farm. It then migrates south for the winter as seen
by zero capture rates (2010-2012; standardized as birds
captured per 100 net hours) from October through April. The
peak in June may correspond to individuals moving throughout
the park before settling into breeding territories.