Snow Bunting Life on the Tundra

Today at Light Future Art, we’re going to shine the spotlight on a special species of arctic bird: the snow bunting!

Snow Bunting Standing in Snow1. Snow buntings live in the tundra during the summer but migrate further South in the winter, where they can be found along shorelines or grasslands.
2. Because snow buntings live in cold climates, keeping the eggs warm is a harder job than for other birds in warmer areas. In order to ensure that the eggs are kept warm enough, the male will often bring his mate food so that she doesn’t need to leave the nest.
3. In groups, snow buntings are sometimes called “snowflakes”. This is because when they fly together, they can appear to look like a flurry of snowflakes.


Colorful Snow Bunting Photo4. These birds are foragers, eating insects and seeds. During times that they live near the coast, they also eat small crustaceans. Snow buntings forage in groups for safety and only stay in one location for about 10 minutes at a time before flying off somewhere else to find food.
5. During mating season, males arrive several weeks ahead of the females to choose a nesting spot. The females show up after the snow has begun to thaw and the males have secured safe nesting spots.
6. Snow buntings build their nests in rocky outcroppings and crevices, which keep the mother and offspring safe from predators.


Adult Snow Bunting in Dry Grass7. During the mating season, males change color from brown to white. They don’t grow new feathers to do this, however. By rubbing their feathers against the snow, they wear away the brown tips of their feathers, revealing the white underneath.
8. The snow bunting is the most Northern-living songbird in the world.
9. Snow buntings are monogamous and both parents will help to feed their chicks. The chicks grow quickly and are usually ready to leave the nest after only a few weeks.
10. The most research has been done about the songs of males during their courtship. It has been observed that each bird has his own unique song. It is possible to identify who each bird is by the particular pattern in which he sings.

If you’re interested in hearing some of those unique sounds, you can go here to listen to the song of the snow bunting.

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