Posted by Steve Rushing on August 23, 2022 at 9:09 am
Male Indigo Buntings are sometimes called blue canaries. With justification for their frequent, cheerful singing.
Different from most other songbirds, Indigo Buntings learn their song from nearby neighboring males rather than their farther. This creates ‘song neighborhoods’ with the same base song but different accent & dialects. All within a few hundred yards of each other. This makes driving along back roads in the spring & summer sound like a ‘blue canary sing off.’
Like canaries, in countries mostly in the Caribbean & Central America, they are also kept in cages for their singing abilities. In Cuba they are favorite entries in competitions, with betting on birds that sing the longest, most melodious tunes.
Unlike canaries, buntings are migratory & protected on their summer breeding grounds by U.S. & Canadian federal migratory bird protection laws. Cuba outlawed trapping & caging, except for scientific reasons, in 2011. A robust black market, with deep south FL a hotspot, persists however & is one reason, along with habitat loss, that Indigo Bunting populations have declined 28% since the mid-1960s.