Indigo Bunting
(Passerina cyanea)


Picture of bird
© Kevin Bolton - License
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Indigo Bunting is commonly found in old fields, shrubby woodland borders and forest edges along the southeastern edge of Canada. The Breeding Bird Survey indicates that the population has shown an overall increase since 1970. However, a decrease in abundance in Canada during the last 10 years and long-term decreases in the United States are potentially cause for concern, as habitat loss and degradation may threaten the stability of the population at its northern limit.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Secure2015 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaModerate IncreaseHighAt an Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada1,000,000 - 5,000,000 adults

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Long-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population

General nesting period in Canada

Nesting period starts between late May and early June and ends in early August, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.

Conservation and management

Like many of the brushland songbirds that benefitted from the logging and clearing of forests for farmland and road-building, the Indigo Bunting showed range expansions and increases in abundance during the 20th century (Payne 2006). Though still increasing in Canada, it is now declining in some parts of its range across the United States. Threats are thought to include habitat loss from natural succession, reforestation, intensification of agriculture, roadside mowing and urbanization on its breeding grounds, and being captured for food or for use as a cage-bird on its wintering grounds in Central America (Payne 2006).


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type