Lazuli Buntings are small finch-like songbirds. With a length of 5.5 inches, the Lazuli Bunting is a pretty small bird. It is smaller than a Western Bluebird (7 in.) and larger than a Lesser Goldfinch (4.5 in). The male is a dazzling blue with a warm orange breast, a white belly, and a prominent white shoulder patch. The female and immature are plain brown with a blue tinge to the wings and tail. They have two buffy wing bars and a pale tan breast. The male perches out in the open while it sings to attract a mate and establish territory, making it a little easier to see it and capture a photo. The female is a little more challenging to see or photograph because she is usually in a shrub or on the ground.
Peterson describes its habitat as “open brush, grassy hillsides with scattered bushes, riparian shrubs, grassy patches in chaparral, weedy fields and ditches.” The Arboretum has lots of attractive habitats for it. I see them up the creek trails, around the south meadow, and throughout the east side of the HBRA where it is open and shrubby.
To locate this bird, listen for its song and call. Here is Peterson’s description of its voice: “Song a lively, ringing warble, often ending in a quick sputter. Call a sharp spit and a dry buzz.”
All About Birds had this interesting information to think about as you listen to its song: “Just like we each have our own voice, each male Lazuli Bunting sings a unique combination of notes. Yearling males generally arrive on the breeding grounds without a song of their own. Shortly after arriving, they create their own song by rearranging syllables and combining song fragments of several males. The song they put together is theirs for life.”
I love finding a good place to sit and watch this beautiful bird and listen to it sing.
Nature is an inexhaustible source of wonder. I look forward to seeing you out there.
Lazuli Bunting Overview, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Lazuli_Bunting/overview. Accessed 31 May 2023.
Peterson, Roger Tory, et al. Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Western North America. 4th ed, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010.