Turquoise. Ultramarine. Indigo. Lazuli. Those are some of my favorite colors. Also names for birds- notably, two species of buntings currently here at Casa Motmot, scarfing down my birdseed and decorating the hardscape with their lovely blueness. We seem to be having a lazuli bunting irruption but why they are congregating at my house is up for speculation. I do have a theory- more on that later but it has something to do with lawn furniture.
Tomorrow I’m flying out to Panama for a little over two weeks, a trip with the purpose of walking into the rainforest and coming out with a quantity of biggish (18″x24″) mixed media drawings, primarily of trees, vines, foliage, leaf litter, flowers, bromelliads- the whole nine jungle yards. One suitcase is a rolling art studio: drawing board, folios, sheaves of paper, a new wooden field easel, pastels packed tight in foam-lined ziplock containers, watercolor kit and brushes, a clamp-on daylight lamp for indoor work…even a light tarp to hang overhead in case of sudden rainstorms. And LOTS of pencils.
With this bunting influx I almost hate to leave. There’s getting to be quite a flock. The males (9 of them as of yesterday) have begun singing to the females (4 at least). Is breeding possible in these parts? Lazuli buntings are very unusual around Central Oklahoma. They are more of a western bird, and a scarce spring migrant, nearly rare. They are joining the indigos and painteds, our usual bunch who breed here. The male indigos seem unnerved by the lazulis and are staying clear of them. The females seem to be more intrigued.
The painted buntings don’t seem to care one way or another and eat alongside the interlopers. The painted buntings will happily use the hanging bird feeder, whereas the lazulis prefer the ground, and seem easily spooked. The painteds seem comfortable with human activity. I’m watching from the window, and they are keeping an eye on me. If I move, the LBs fly.
The only indigo showing up for this bunting bonanza is an odd-looking bird, and it shows some hybrid characteristics. The flanks are washed whitish, the entire lower belly is pure white, the lesser wing coverts are tipped with white, and there’s a rusty band across the lower chest. I don’t know enough about it to call the identification, so I’ve forwarded some photos along for the experts to decide on. And I post them here, too. What do you think?
Tomorrow I’ll be jetting off to the tropics, so it’s nice to have this nice little neotropic preview. Isn’t blue the coolest color of all?
17 thoughts on “Am I Blue?”
Beautiful pictures…what a collections of Lazulis!
Its been a wonderful year….
shall we make a wager on how many of the “blue”
lawn chairs show up?!….what color is that anyway?
Best wishes and keep up the excellent observations!
On blue chairs: if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes. The color is “Cruising 6782” from Sherwin Williams. I was trying for a Mexican courtyard garden look but the chairs were as far as I got. Thanks for the comments!
Great post. I think you may be right about the hybrid theory, but it’s not like I have comparitive experience here in California! Maybe I’ll paint my patio chairs blue.
Great pictures! You have such a beautiful backyard. No wonder all the birds want to be there. One comment: The indigo female in the picture is a second year bird (based on the primary coverts), and it looks even drabber compared to painted females. Older indigo females have more distinct wing bars (though they are browner and not as bright as painted females) and usually have blue tint on upper tail and rump as well. Please keep up the great work on your website.
Great info, Tamaki. Thanks for the added detail- sounds like you know your buntings.
I’m in Tuttle, OK and frustrated in not having had one sighting of the beautiful Painted or Lazuli Buntings. What are you feeding them? I use Millet and Black Oiled Sunflower seeds with thistle thrown in too. Sue
Hi Sue !! Last year in May we had a small group of buntings come through. I live near McLoud ok. We though screened corn on the ground and they just loved it. The Lazuli is a lot smaller than you think. Hopefully they will be back. Also indigo buntings, cardinals, and doves feed here too. I think the bigger birds attracted the smaller ones. Try this and good luck!!!
Believe it or not, I’m feeding the cheap supermarket bird feed with extra cracked corn mixed in. Very little sunflower seed or even millet, for that matter. There’s a thistle feeder nearby that they’re ignoring. They only eat the food scattered on the ground, there’s fresh water for them to bathe in and don’t forget the blue chairs!
I am really really sorry you are heading to Panama as I would like to see what you get this week Debbie. Terrific birds. My wife is gonna put out some blue furniture!!!!!!!!
Great post, awesome pictures. Have a great trip. Birds are are so awesome.
Yikes! You lost a lazuli bunting last year (found it on the porch, a possible casualty of plate glass). Having only seen an indigo in person, I wrongly thought it very, very…bright. The chairs, by the way, are fabulous. The garden is excellent. I see no giant ragweed. Darn.
Great blog! This is a wonderful inspiration for my own blog (which I invite you to visit, although it’s written in portuguese) and my fieldsketching trips.
I’m going to paint my porch chair red and see if I can get a bunch of Ohio cardinals to land here. I always miss those guys.
WoW!, really blue here!.
I love the first picture.
Whenever I see blue in my yard I get all shook up. I think the chairs did it.
I feed screened corn on the ground in an open spot in my yard and have seen Lazuli buntings here in central oklahoma. Indigo buntings,cadinals, and doves love this feeding method.