Snow Bunting

Silhouette BuntingsBuntings

Snow Bunting

Plectrophenax nivalis
  • ORDER: Passeriformes
  • FAMILY: Calcariidae
Basic Description

Cold and dark winter days come alive with the flurry of black-and-white Snow Buntings tumbling in flight across barren fields and lakeshores. These restless birds flock up by the hundreds in winter, scattering across Canada and the United States. Snow Buntings breed in the high Arctic among rocky crevices where their crisp white plumage blends in with the snowy landscape. In the winter they acquire rusty tones that help them blend in with their winter homes of bare ground and crop stubble.

More ID Info
image of range map for Snow BuntingRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

Find This Bird

Unless you fancy a trip to the high arctic in summer, winter is the time to go looking for Snow Buntings. Look for them in crop stubble and along lakeshores where debris forms a ring around the water's edge. When they forage they tend to crouch down and blend in extremely well with the ground; even if you don't think you see anything, give the ground a scan and look for movement. Snow Buntings are also restless during the winter and fly to a new spot every 10 minutes or so. Look for a flurry of black-and-white as they dash off to a new foraging spot.

Other Names
  • Escribano Nival (Spanish)
  • Plectrophane des neiges (French)
  • Cool Facts