Over the summer, I had number of these that had been set aside to be made into skin specimens. Of course I would much, much rather see the bird alive then have it end up in my work area, but I relished the opportunity to study the male's vibrant blue plumage up close. Passerina cyanea are small, sparrow-sized birds. I've seen them in the Spring when hiking. A flash of deep blue will streak across a preserve path. The females are a pale, warm brown. Buntings, along with tanagers, cardinals, and grosbeaks, are lobbed into the family Cardinalidae. They share the thick, conical beak that is distinctive of cardinals and grosbeaks.