Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Indigo Bunting

This little beauty is an Indigo Bunting. Right now, you couldn't find a one of his kind on my farm, but soon he and his friends will be traveling my way. Want to know the really cool part? He'll travel at night. Because Indigo Buntings use the stars to navigate during their migrations. And they aren't born with this skill hard-wired in. They learn it. If they've lived in captivity and couldn't see the night sky during the fall and spring, they aren't able to navigate. But if once they learn how to do it, they can find the way back to their favorite places from anywhere they wind up. How cool is that?

I also think it's neat that they aren't actually blue, or even indigo. The females are a dull brown and the males, like this one here, are black. Yup, black. Their feathers are black. But their feathers diffract light, kind of like a CD. If you hold a CD and look at it from the side, you can see that it's clear plastic. But the coating on it makes it diffract light so that it has that nifty rainbow look. The feathers on an indigo bunting are black. But the shape of the feathers causes light to diffract, making them look bright, vibrant blue. And the older the bird, the bluer his feathers look. Don't believe me? Check out the details here and here.

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