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The blue grosbeak and indigo bunting may appear similar at first glance, but a wild double take shows differences in size, heaviness of bill, and wing coloration in adult males. 

Watch Wild Double Take: Blue Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting on YouTube.


Find tips for identifying Oklahoma’s look-alike species in our video series on YouTube.

Similarities: Adult male blue grosbeaks and indigo buntings share blue feathers (female blue grosbeaks are cinnamon-colored while female indigo buntings are brownish with faint streaks), a migratory lifestyle, and brushy and weedy habitat while in Oklahoma. Both species migrate to Oklahoma each spring and return to Central America in the fall. 

Differences: The blue grosbeak is the larger look-alike, averaging about 7 inches in length. This species has a heavier bill, a longer tail, and rufous wing bars. The indigo bunting only averages about 5-6 inches in length, has a smaller bill and shorter tail, and lacks the reddish wingbars. 

Because the blue grosbeak and indigo bunting are similar in shape and color, and share similar scrubby habitats, beginning bird watchers may instead rely on their differing songs to help with identification. The grosbeak has a rich warble while the bunting typically sings a series of paired notes

If you see a grosbeak or bunting in your backyard, local park, or the larger Outdoor Oklahoma, consider sharing the sighting on free nature platforms like eBird and iNaturalist. Adding a photo to your observation can allow others to help confirm the identification.