Jennifer August of Solon Township has been seeing some bright blue birds around her home, and this week she brought in some photos she had taken over the weekend.
“At first I had just one bird, and then by the end of the weekend, there were three,” she told us. She said at first she thought they were indigo buntings, but then after looking at her bird book, wondered if they might be blue grosbeaks.
We sent the photos on to our resident expert, Ranger Steve Mueller. Here is his response:
“The two look similar. Blue Grosbeaks have been recorded in Michigan but the pictures are of an Indigo Bunting. The grosbeak would have brown wingbars. One of the pictures shows the bill and it is slimmer than a Blue Grosbeak’s bill. Those two feathers give reason to call it a Indigo Bunting.”
We asked Steve for clarification on the wing bars. “The brown wing bars are quite distinct groups of small feathers that make small elongated patches about an inch long and 1/4 inch wide on the Blue Grosbeak. The Indigo Bunting may have some scattered brown feathers but they do not make a distinct patch,” explained Steve.
He said that the bunting is smaller than the grosbeak and the Blue Grosbeak is smaller than other grosbeaks. “The bill shape is very helpful. The bunting bill is conical and the grosbeak bill is larger and more rounded.”
Thanks, Jennifer, for your photos!
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