Snow Bunting

Order: Passeriformes
Family: Emberizidae
Genus: Plectrophenax
Species: nivalis

La. passer  sparrow, small bird
La. forma  form, kind, species
Swiss-German  emmeritz bunting
      or yellow hammer
Gr. plektron  rooster's spur
Gr. phenax  imposter (refers to
      the hind claw)
La. nix, nivis snow
La. nivalis  snowy

Snow Bunting, F. C. Hennessey, Birds of Eastern Canada, P.A. Taverner, 1922

F.C. Hennessey

About seven inches long and plump. Predominantly white on whole head, neck, rump, and underneath.  Wings mixed black and white. Black scapulars (upper wing feathers), inner secondaries (middle wing feathers), end half of primaries (longest wing feathers), back and inner tail feathers.  Darker in the autumn gradually becoming more white again in winter.


USGS Snow Bunting Map
distribution in this map may be in laditudes too low to represent the breeding season for Snow Buntings.

A bird of the tundra, circumpolar in the Arctic regions, Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, northern Scandinavia and Siberia migrating south in the autumn to the Scottish Highlands, over Europe, eastern Asia, Canada and the U.S., appearing around Hudson Bay around September and further south in about another two months reaching the upper U.S. around December.  

A few have been recorded nesting as far south as the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  Normally they do not winter further south than Illinois or New York, but occasionally they wander as far as Kansas and Virginia.

Forced south not by the severe cold and deep snow cover so much as the deprivation of its food source, moving northward again as early as February.

They are content playing and singing during snow storms when the temperature is thirty degrees below zero.

Builds warm bulky nests of stems, grass and moss lined with feathers and fur hair in rock crevices on barren hillsides, in cavities in sand banks and in nestboxes.

Snow Buntings, R. Bruce Horsfall, A Year with the Birds,  Alice E. Ball, 1916

R. Bruce Horsfall

Lays three to seven dull white speckled eggs with a faint blue-green tint.

Ground feeders of various seeds, buds, insect larvae and small shell fish. Flocks forage for weed shoots penetrating snow covered fields.

They walk and do not hop, rarely perching in trees, sometimes on a fence or structure.

The Snow Bunting nestbox has a 5" by 5" floor, 8" inside ceiling, 1 3/4" diameter entrance hole located 6" below the roof and ventilation openings.   Screw assembly and hinged roof is secured with shutter hooks for easy access.  Mount on a post or the wall of a house or shed.  

Snow Bunting Nestbox Plans and Dimensions, Free Printable
Snow Bunting Nestbox



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