Sunday, 26 March 2017

Bird of the week - Snow bunting

This has been our third winter in a row without snow.  Snow buntings have also been hard to come by in recent years so I was very pleased to see one (and it was only one) at Druridge Bay this week.  I think this bird is a winter male.

The last decent view I had of a snow bunting was this female three years ago, at the same place.

This BTO BirdTrack graph shows that snow bunting numbers have been low this winter.

Snow buntings are winter visitors found on north-east coasts or on high ground, mainly in Scotland.  There is a tiny breeding population in the Scottish Highlands.

This is where they breed in Europe.

Snow buntings have circumpolar distribution and are common in North America, breeding in the Arctic and wintering either side of the US-Canadian border.

Thomas Bewick made this engraving for A History of British Birds (1797).

Snow buntings were obviously much more common in Bewick's time (as was snow).
 As usual, he commented on their culinary attributes.

Archibald Thorburn painted a male snow bunting with a reed bunting, both in breeding plumage.

He also painted one in winter colours (L) with a twite (R).

John James Audubon painted this plate for Birds of America.

You can listen to Sir David Attenborough's BBC Radio 4 Tweet of the Day here.


  1. Sadly he eluded us - although we saw a velvet scoter and two red throated divers on the sea. And of course the usual shore larks...

  2. Adorable little buggers. I love the songs they sing when they return in the Spring.