About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Photo Share: Snow Bunting

Hi, we had a group of these birds stop by our feeder. I had not seen any like them before and was unable to find it in any of the bird books. Hope the pictures are clear enough. Can you help me?
JK
Charlotte, MI
.
It looks like a snow bunting. In winter they prefer fields and pastures where they scratch for seeds. Your bird book may be only showing the black and white picture of the breeding male snow bunting. In Michigan we only see snow buntings in their winter non breeding colors.

Snow buntings breed farther north than any other known songbird. Males will migrate north again in April. The breeding season begins in late May, after the female snow buntings migrate. They build their nests with grass, moss, feathers, and fur in rocky terrain to avoid becoming prey to fox or owls.

A range map can be found at:
http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/Snow_Bunting_dtl.html
The Cornell website also explains that although breeding and non breeding males look very different, the Snow Bunting has only one molt each year. After the molt in the late summer the male has the rusty colored back, white belly, and black edged wings. The male wears off all of its rusty colored feathers by rubbing them on snow, and becomes white and black by the time breeding begins.

Thanks for the photos!

If anyone else has any questions or photos to share please send them to bloubird@gmail.com.

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