My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Snow Bunting, Plectrophenax nivalis

Note: this post, while published, is a work in progress, as are all posts in this series, My Photo Life List. My goal is to photograph every species of bird that is seen on a regular basis here in Michigan, working from a list compiled by the Michigan chapter of the Audubon Society. This will be a lifelong project, that I began in January of 2013, and as I shoot better photos of this, or any other species, I will update the post for that species with better photos when I can. While this series is not intended to be a field guide per se, my minimum standard for the photos in this series is that one has to be able to make a positive identification of the species in my photos. The information posted here is from either my observations or the Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, however, I have personally shot all the photos appearing in this series.

Snow Bunting, Plectrophenax nivalis

It is fairly large and long-winged for a bunting, 15–18 cm long and with a wingspan of 32–38 cm, and weighing 26–50 g. In flight, it is easily identified by its large white wing patches. The breeding male is unmistakable, with all white plumage and a black back; the breeding female is grey-black where the male is solid black. In winter plumage, both sexes are mottled pale ginger, blackish and white above, and pale ginger and white below, with the males having more white than the females. The bill is yellow with a black tip, all black in summer males. Unlike most passerines, it has feathered toes, an adaptation to its harsh environment. No other passerine can winter as far north as this species apart from the Common Raven.

The call is a distinctive rippling whistle, “per,r,r,rit” and the typical Plectrophenax warble “hudidi feet feet feew hudidi”.

It builds its bulky nest in rock crevices. The eggs are blue-green, spotted brown, and hatch in 12–13 days, and the young are already ready to fly after a further 12–14 days.

On to the photos:

Snow buntings

Snow buntings

Snow buntings in flight

Snow buntings in flight

Snow Bunting

Snow Bunting

Snow Bunting

Snow Bunting

Snow Bunting

Snow Bunting

Snow Buntings in flight

Snow Buntings in flight

This is number 48 in my photo life list, only 302 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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2 responses

  1. Your buntings are adorable! So many of them, you are so lucky.

    March 6, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    • Thanks, but the numbers of buntings pale in comparison to the snow geese that you recently posted.

      March 7, 2013 at 1:35 am