Lazuli Bunting

Passerina amoena
Range Map

These birds are one of the more colorful songbirds I’ve met. They take their scientific name from their good looks, and their common name from the richness and similarity of their color to the semi-precious gemstone Lazuli Lapis. Passerina amoena means “beautiful sparrow.” In southern California they prefer chaparral habitat. These sparrow-like birds breed across western USA from southern Canada to northern Texas, central New Mexico and Arizona, and southern California, but they winter along the west coast of Mexico.

Most birds go through a seasonal molt either prior to leaving the breeding grounds or after arriving at their winter homes. The Lazuli Buntings have a slight variation to this pattern. They may shed a few feathers prior to heading south for the winter, but they use stopover locations in the southwestern deserts to finish their molting and feed on the wealth of insects available after the summer Monsoon rains.

Scientists today regard the Lazuli Bunting as monotypic (i.e. no subspecies).

All my encounters with Lazuli Buntings have been in the far western USA, in California, Oregon and Idaho. They have blessed me with most of my meetings near my home in southern California.



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