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Lazuli Bunting, Dusty Veideman
Photo © Dusty Veideman

Photo: Dusty Veideman
Breeding evidence - Lazuli Bunting
Breeding evidence
Probability of observation - Lazuli Bunting
Probability of observation
Elevation plot - Lazuli Bunting
Elevation plot

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Lazuli Bunting
Passerina amoena
Landscape associations:

Click on plot to view table of mean abundance
Elevation range:
5 - 1708 m
Conserv. status:
Not at risk
Global importance
of B.C. population:
Number of squares
ConfirmedProbablePossiblePoint counts
75 118 273 211
Long-term BBS trends
RegionYearsTrend (conf. interv.) Reliab.
Brit. Col.1970 - 2012 2.97 (1.54 - 4.2)High
Canada1973 - 2012 2.68 (-0.48 - 3.98)Medium

Mean abundance by region

Bird Conservation Regions [plot]
NW Interior ForestBoreal Taiga PlainsGreat BasinNorthern RockiesN. Pacific Rainforest
   0.190.11 0.09
Ecoprovinces [plot]
N. Boreal Mountains Taiga Plains Boreal Plains Georgia Depression Sub-Boreal Interior
S. Interior Mountains Central Interior Southern Interior S. Alaska Mountains Coast & Mountains
0.10.17 0.19  0.07

Mean abundance by habitat [plot]

Boreal Altai Fescue AlpineBoreal White and Black SpruceBunchgrassCoastal Douglas-fir
Coastal Mountain-heather AlpineCoastal Western HemlockEngelmann Spruce -- Subalpine FirInterior Cedar -- Hemlock
Interior Douglas-firInterior Mountain-heather AlpineMontane SpruceMountain Hemlock
0.16 0.04 
Ponderosa PineSpruce -- Willow -- BirchSub-Boreal Pine -- SpruceSub-Boreal Spruce
0.25 0.110.07

Characteristics and Range Few of our shrubland birds delight observers as much as the spectacular male Lazuli Bunting with its blue, white and cinnamon plumage. Its protracted singing period lasts long after males of other species have finished for the season, maintaining the vibrant sounds of summer. The Lazuli Bunting is a short- to medium- distance migrant that breeds across the Great Basin, the Cascade and Rocky Mountains, the Sierra Nevada and the western Great Plains, and winters mainly on the Pacific Slope in Mexico (Greene et al. 2014). British Columbia marks the northern limit of its breeding range.

Distribution, Abundance, and Habitat Lazuli Buntings are most widespread across the southern third of the province, east of the Coast Mountains. Breeding was also widely confirmed during the Atlas along the lower Fraser Valley and in the upper Lillooet River drainage, with isolated breeding confirmed to 54░N and 125░W, and outlying records of probable and possible breeding north to the Peace River lowlands and Williston Lake, and southwest to Vancouver Island. Distribution during the Atlas period indicates that the gradual northward and westward expansion of the species' provincial range since the 1940s has continued since The Birds of British Columbia was published in 2001.

Centres of the provincial population, indicated by highest predicted Probability of Observation and actual abundance values for the Lazuli Bunting, are in the Southern Interior Ecoprovince, in three separate drainages: the South Okanagan, Fraser River, and upper Thompson River valley systems. Similarly high abundance is found only locally in the Georgia Depression and Central Interior. Within these areas, it is most common in the 250-750 m elevation range, and in Ponderosa Pine, Interior Douglas-fir, and Bunchgrass biogeoclimatic zones.

At a finer scale, Lazuli Buntings are found primarily in open, shrubby areas or aspen groves with a shrubby understory, brush-filled gullies, the margins of agricultural land and riparian habitat strips, disturbed sites along road margins, railway corridors, powerline rights of way, shrub-steppe, brushy areas below talus slopes or regenerating logging sites. Depending upon the climate and ecoprovince, associated shrubs include Big Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), rose (Rosa species), Lewis's Mock-orange (Philadelphus lewisii), Saskatoon (Amelanchier alnifolia), snowberry (Symphoricarpos species), Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), hawthorn (Crataegus species), Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus), Scotch Broom (Cytisus scoparius) and Himalayan Blackberry (Rubus armeniacus) (Campbell et al. 2001). Habitat structure is likely more important than species of shrubs.

Conservation and Recommendations Lazuli Buntings are doing well in British Columbia, showing a long-term increasing trend based on Breeding Bird Survey data. Global responsibility for conservation stewardship in the province is low, which, coupled with the species' ability to adapt to cleared areas with shrub growth and other recovering disturbed sites, suggests that specific conservation strategies in British Columbia are not warranted at this time.

Rick Howie

Recommended citation: Howie, R. 2015. Lazuli Bunting in Davidson, P.J.A., R.J. Cannings, A.R. Couturier, D. Lepage, and C.M. Di Corrado (eds.). The Atlas of the Breeding Birds of British Columbia, 2008-2012. Bird Studies Canada. Delta, B.C. [14 Jun 2024]

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