They are placed on a plant usually called the Wild Sarsaparilla. It grows in Louisiana, on the skirts of the forests, in low damp places, and along the fields, where the Indigo Birds are to be found. It is a creeping plant, and is considered valuable on account of its medicinal properties.
Fringilla cyanea, Ch. Bonaparte, Synops. of Birds of the United States, p. 107.
Indigo Bird, Fringilla cyanea, Wils. Amer. Omith. vol. i. p. 100. PI. 4. fig. 5. Male—Ch. Bonaparte, Amer. Ornith. vol. ii. PL 2. fig. 3. Female.
Male in full plumage. Plate LXXIV. Fig. 1.
Bill short, robust, conical, a little bulging, straight, acute; upper mandible broader, slightly declinate at the tip; gap-line a little declinate at the base. Nostrils basal, roundish, partially concealed by the frontal feathers. Head rather large. Neck of ordinary size. Body ovate. Feet of ordinary length, rather slender; tarsus covered anteriorly with a few scutella, the uppermost long, posteriorly edged; toes free, scutellate above; claws slender, compressed, arched, acute.
Plumage glossy, somewhat silky, blended. Wings of ordinary length, the second and third quills longest. Tail of ordinary length, distinctly emarginate, of twelve obtuse feathers.
Bill brownish-black, light blue beneath. Iris dark brown. Feet yellowish-brown. The general colour is a rich sky-blue, deeper on the head, lighter beneath, and in certain lights changing to verdigris-green. The quills, larger wing-coverts, and tail-feathers, dark brown, margined externally with blue.
Length 5¼ inches, extent of wings 7½; bill along the ridge ⅓, along the gap nearly ½; tarsus ¾.
Male in the second year. Plate LXXIV. Fig. 3.
Bill lighter, irides and feet as in the adult. Head, neck and body, blue, but of a lighter tint; tail as in the adult; wings, including the lesser coverts, dull brown, the secondary coverts and some of the quills margined with blue.
Male in the first autumn. Plate LXXIV. Fig. 2.
Bill, irides and feet as in the last. Head and body of a lighter and duller blue, interspersed with brown patches; wings brown, secondary coverts tipped with whitish.