Attract Indigo Buntings With Their Favorite Foods

Updated: Oct. 20, 2021

With a little landscape planning and their favorite types of seed at your bird feeder, you can attract indigo buntings and enjoy their brilliant beauty.

The bright blue flash of an indigo bunting is a sight every birder would welcome to their backyard. In summer, this beautiful bird is found throughout the eastern U.S. and into Canada. Floridians can look for them in the winter. Although they won’t attain full breeding plumage until early spring. Here’s some helpful tips to feed and attract indigo buntings.

Check out 20 photos of breathtaking blue colored birds.

Attract Indigo Buntings with MilletJill Staake
Indigo Bunting

How to Attract Indigo Buntings to Feeders

Attracting an indigo bunting to your backyard feeder may be challenging even for folks who live within their range and see them most often. According to nature columnist, birder and author Gary Clark, buntings visit feeders most often during migration but seldom in breeding season. “Their breeding habitat includes grass and weed fields in woodland areas, where they eat a variety of insects, spiders, fruits and seeds,” he says. “Sunflower seeds would be fine for those that show up in backyards during migration. Although in my experience, they eat seed that’s fallen on the ground more than at actual feeders.”

how to attract indigo buntingsCourtesy Amanda Piver

If you want to tempt them with feeders, though, most backyard birders will have the best luck by feeding them one of their favorite seeds—white proso millet. They will also be attracted to black oil and hulled sunflower seeds, and Nyjer. Try setting out a finch feeder or a tray feeder with perches designed for smaller birds. If squirrels are a problem, try one a feeder encased in a cage that keeps pesky squirrels out. Sprinkling a little millet on the ground may also attract doves, juncos, quail, and bobwhites. If you live in an area that has painted buntings, you might attract these colorful birds, too!

Spring is a great time to add white proso millet seed to your feeders, so you’ll be attracting indigo buntings as soon as they arrive in your area.

indigo buntingCourtesy Joan Edblom

Plants to Attract Indigo Buntings

Perhaps the best way to attract indigo buntings to your backyard is to model it after their ideal habitat. Bushes, hedges, berry-producing shrubs and flowers provide plenty of shelter and natural food sources like buds, berries and seeds. Strawberries, blackberries, serviceberries, blueberries and elderberries are indigo bunting favorites. These plants also attract many insects— beetles, grasshoppers, aphids and cicadas—that indigo buntings like to feast on the most.

Next, check out the best cardinal bird feeders and birdseed.