This morning I was working at my desk and I looked up to see a bunting perched in the shrub outside my window. A bunting! I hadn't seen one on Bodega Head yet. I didn't have binoculars or a camera nearby at the time, so I decided to try to get a closer look outside. I saw enough to know that it was either a Lazuli or Indigo bunting, but the bird flew away almost immediately. I looked around a bit, but couldn't relocate the bird.
At the end of the day, I decided it would be worth trying again. I thought to myself, "Okay, if I was a bunting, where would I be?" I generally think of buntings in weedy or shrubby habitats, so I visualized the patch of habitat like that closest to my office and headed in that direction.
When I got there, I was pretty excited to find the bunting! This bird was extremely shy, so it took several tries to get a photograph. I didn't end up with any high quality images, but these pictures will serve as a record.
The next question —is this a Lazuli Bunting or Indigo Bunting? This is a bit of tricky one for me, as I haven't seen Indigo Buntings in years, and I have very little experience with Lazuli Buntings.
I'm leaning towards Lazuli Bunting (Passerina amoena). The field marks that I'm using include an overall grayer plumage, distinct whitish wing bars, grayish throat, a hint of a buffy breast band, and a relatively unstreaked breast.
Although not a great photo, this one shows the throat and breast:
And the photo below shows the wing bars and the tail (with some bluish coloration). Note that the feathers generally look fresh, perhaps indicating that this is a juvenile bird.
I'd love other opinions about the identification of this bunting — either confirming it or suggesting another species.
Lazuli Buntings are considered rare migrants on Bodega Head.