Smithsonian National Zoo’s New Bird House Highlights Migratory Birds’ Incredible Journeys
1 of 12
Indigo buntings are striking songbirds, with blue-black plumage and a cheerful song that rings out from the treetops in spring. They spend the warm months in the eastern United States, feasting on insects and seeds at forest edges and in overgrown fields and orchards. Then, as food grows scarce with the onset of autumn, tens of millions of buntings—each weighing about the same as three nickels—begin flying south to Central America and Caribbean islands, a distance of roughly 1200 miles. They gorge on insects all winter, and then depart for the return journey.