Lazuli buntings nesting in Southeastern Idaho - East Idaho News
Living the Wild Life

Lazuli buntings nesting in Southeastern Idaho

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A brilliant flash of blue caught my attention as I walked out to check my bird feeders, but I was able to control my desire to jump up and down with excitement. A male lazuli bunting had finally showed up at my feeders, and I was a very happy guy.

By end of the day, I had four of them battling with the house finches over the feeder containing shelled sunflower pieces. Later that day, I had a feeder with just white millet, their favorite food at my yard.

This happened a couple of weeks ago between rainstorms. The number of lazulis jumped up to seven and then down to two males, which remain here. A few days later, two females showed up and the two pairs began to hang out together, one in a thicket of wild roses and the other in a lilac bush behind a fence.

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Bill Schiess,

In the spring, most of these buntings migrate all the way from northern Mexico to Idaho. Once here, the males set up a nesting territory while the female chooses her mate and then watches as he spends the day singing his good luck. She is left to build the nest by herself, lays the eggs and raise the young’uns. She is basically a single mom.

He likes to choose an area where there is water, plenty of seeds for the grown-ups and plenty of insects soft food for the babies. Many of these areas are around creeks with thickets or near homes with bird feeders. My backyard was perfect for two pairs with their nests about 200 yards from each other.

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During the nesting season, the females are very shy and secretive. | Bill Schiess,

I encourage the brown-headed cowbirds to move on, away from the nests as they like to scratch out the bunting eggs and replace them with their own so the mom can raise “calf-birds.”

During the nesting season, the females are very shy and secretive. Rarely do they leave the nest except when feeding early in the morning and late in the evening. When hatching takes place, they have to gather a lot of insects and seeds to feed the hungry brood. Talk about a woman holding three jobs while the absent father sings his life away.

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Bill Schiess,

By the first year of their life, immature males have not developed their songs. During their second year they will start imitating the area’s mature males; by doing this they keep the unique songs for the area. Its like grandpa humans keeping the family traditions in order.

Like other birds, lazuli buntings start their molt after breeding season, but their molt stops after the new flight feathers have developed. On their migration south, they stop in Arizona at “molting hotspots” that contain a lot of insects to finish losing and growing new feathers. Once they are fully clothed, they head to a wintering vacation in northern Mexico.

I found out another reason that I like them; they got their name from a bright blue rock, lapis lazuli, which is found in Colorado and California.

I hope all of you have a wonderful summer by enjoying the beautiful flowers and birds. Hopefully, they will be plentiful in your yard for you to enjoy.

By the way, I will be taking down all my seed feeders in about two weeks, but I will continue with my hummingbird feeders as it appears I have at least three pairs of hummingbirds and several pairs of bullock’s orioles nesting in my yard. All love to drink out of the feeders, adding a lot of joy and beauty in my life.

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