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Lazuli Bunting

Passerina amoena

These birds are one of the more colorful songbirds I’ve met. These birds take their scientific name from their good looks. 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 on this pattern. They may shed a few feathers prior to heading south for the winter, but use stopover locations in the southwestern deserts to finish their molting and feed on the wealth of insects available after the summer Monsoon rains.

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