Amelia Island’s Colorful Visitors: Indigo and Painted Buntings

Did you know Amelia Island is the gateway to the Great Florida Birding Trail? On Earth Day, what better time to share some of Amelia Island’s natural splendor? Throughout the day Painted Buntings and Indigo Buntings frequented a backyard feeder in Fernandina Beach. A beautiful sight, the vivid colors of these buntings will surprise the novice seeing them for the first time.

Amelia Island Birds: Beautiful Indigo Bunting, Fernandina Beach
Amelia Island Birds: Beautiful Indigo Bunting, Fernandina Beach

On Earth Day, what better time to share some of Amelia Island’s natural splendor? Throughout the day Painted Buntings and Indigo Buntings frequented a backyard feeder in Fernandina Beach. A beautiful sight, the vivid colors of these buntings will surprise the novice seeing them for the first time.

AMELIA ISLAND: GATEWAY TO GREAT FLORIDA BIRDING TRAIL

All around this beautiful barrier island setting, residents and visitors have abundant opportunities to appreciate coastal nature.

Bird watching is just one rewarding nature activity to enjoy on Amelia Island. There are shorebirds at the beach, wading birds around the marsh and transient migrants passing through.  Just take a walk or watch outside the window to see Amelia Island’s bountiful birds.

Birding: Male Painted Bunting, Amelia Island, Florida
Gorgeous Male Painted Bunting, Amelia Island, Florida

April is a month where visitors arrive for “Spring Break,” including migrating birds. Painted Buntings are regular visitors to Amelia Island, spotted in April and especially in mid-August into October. They’ve been visiting this particular yard in Fernandina for three years now, ever since the feeder was placed there, adjacent to an Indian Hawthorne tree and shrubbery for cover, as well as water source, a birth bath.

The male Painted Bunting with its vibrant red, blue, green and yellow plumage is the most colorful songbird in North America. The bright blue male Indigo Bunting is another stunner. Not one but three male Indigos ate seed together on a wooden walkway adjacent to the bird feeders on this day in Fernandina Beach.

Green buntings also visited (either female Painted Buntings or young males before molting into full colors). What a delight to see such a bright display of bird plumage!

The morning actually began on a dreary note, and continued to be a rather blustery cool day after intermittent heavy rain and continuing gusty winds into the afternoon. A weather pattern a bit unusual for this time of the year. But cheering things up soon, the backyard bird bonanza began and continued throughout the day. Local residents without feeders may like to put one out. Painted Buntings prefer white millet seed. Bird watching is a nice way to brighten the day and a great learning experience for kids and adults alike.

How wonderful on Earth Day to simply peer out the window to see some of nature’s most colorful song birds. The buntings were the stars with their vivid colors, but supporting actors contributing to the show included Red Cardinals, Mourning Doves, Carolina Chickadees and a Carolina Wren, a Gray Catbird, a Tufted Titmouse, and a handsome couple of House Finches, the male with its red head and breast.

However, like plundering pirates that once roamed Amelia Island, invading the feeders were half a dozen squirrels, upsetting the scene and scattering the lovely birds over and over again throughout the day.

Learn more about local birding at the gateway to the Great Florida Birding Trail located on Amelia Island at Fort Clinch State Park. A birding information kiosk and two feeders are located near the Fort Clinch fishing pier. Park fee is $6 per vehicle, open daily. (To tour the fort itself is an additional $2 per person). Enter Fort Clinch from Atlantic Avenue in Fernandina Beach, just up the street from Main Beach Park. Call Fort Clinch at 904-277-7274 for more information.