Snow Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis (Linnaeus, 1758)    Synonyms: SNBU, Snowflake.
Kingdom Animalia   >   Phylum Chordata   >   Class Aves   >   Order Passeriformes   >   Family Calcariidae   >   Genus Plectrophenax   

Status:

Snow Buntings breed in the high Arctic and winter in open country in the balmy climes of roughly the southern half of Canada and the northern half of the U.S. They are uncommon to rare winter visitors in Maryland and can be found in open places such as farm fields, beaches, and jetties - basically anywhere you might encounter Horned Larks.

Here are some cool facts from All About Birds:

"Male Snow Buntings head to their high arctic breeding grounds when the ground is still covered in snow and temperatures can dip to -22° F. That doesn't seem like a good time to arrive, but males need to arrive early to make sure they get one of the limited nesting spots in a rock crevice. Females join them 3 to 4 weeks later when things start to warm up."

"The Snow Bunting places its nest deep in cracks or other cavities in rocks. Although such nest sites are relatively secure from predators, rocks are cold. The thick nest lining of fur and feathers helps keep the eggs and nestlings warm, but the female must stay on the nest for most of the incubation period. Because the female can't leave the nest very often, the male brings her food almost every 15 minutes."

"Although breeding and nonbreeding Snow Buntings look quite different, the change from nonbreeding to breeding plumage isn't caused by growing in a new set of feathers (molt). The change from brownish to pure white happens when males rub their bellies and heads on the snow, wearing down the brown feather tips to reveal immaculate white features below."

There are 122 records in the project database.

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A Snow Bunting at Sandy Point SP, Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (2/26/2011). Photo by Dan Haas. (MBP list)

A Snow Bunting in Baltimore Co., Maryland (11/14/2017). Photo by Emily Carter Mitchell. (MBP list)

A Snow Bunting in Baltimore Co., Maryland (11/11/2012). Photo by Jon Corcoran. (MBP list)

A Snow Bunting in Baltimore Co., Maryland (11/18/2016). Photo by Mark Johnson. (MBP list)

A Snow Bunting in Baltimore Co., Maryland (11/11/2012). Photo by Jon Corcoran. (MBP list)

A Snow Bunting in Baltimore Co., Maryland (11/14/2018). Photo by Andrew Clemens. (MBP list)

A Snow Bunting in Baltimore Co., Maryland (11/19/2018). Photo by Andrew Clemens. (MBP list)

A Snow Bunting in Baltimore Co., Maryland (11/19/2018). Photo by Monica Pileggi. (MBP list)

A Snow Bunting in Baltimore Co., Maryland (11/1/2018). Photo by Anthony VanSchoor. (MBP list)

A Snow Bunting on Assateague Island, Worcester Co., Maryland (11/15/2009). Photo by Frode Jacobsen. (MBP list)

A Snow Bunting in St. Mary's Co., Maryland (11/23/2007). Photo by Matt Tillett. (MBP list)

A Snow Bunting (with outstretched wing) at Sandy Point SP, Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (12/26/2014). Photo by Wendy Crowe. (MBP list)

A Snow Bunting in Baltimore Co., Maryland (11/15/2017). Photo by Andrew Clemens. (MBP list)

A Snow Bunting in Baltimore Co., Maryland (11/17/2016). Photo by Kye Jenkins. (MBP list)

Snow Buntings at Point Lookout in St. Mary's Co., Maryland (12/17/2016). Photo by Bill Hubick. (MBP list)

A flock of Snow Bunting in Baltimore Co., Maryland (1/6/2019). Photo by Jim Stasz. (MBP list)

An incredibly late Snow Bunting in Wicomico Co., Maryland (5/27/2009). This bird was found by Sam Dyke in a field next to a golf course that was covered in old white golf balls. Photo by Jim Brighton. (MBP list)

A flock of Snow Buntings in flight in Middleboro, Massachusetts (2/20/2011). Photo by Jeremiah Trimble. (MBP list)

Typical winter Snow Bunting habitat in Baltimore Co., Maryland (1/5/2019). A small flock of Snow Buntings is not quite visible. Photo by Bill Hubick. (MBP list)


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