Snow Buntings

Salisbury State Reservation has a series of parking lots that are nearly vacant this time of year.  In addition to gulls, there were several flocks of one of my favorite birds: Snow Buntings.  The pint-sized tundra breeders just seem to be having too much fun.  They crouch as they feed, skittering along as a group, and can be really tough to spot in snow-covered grass or dirt — until they fly.  Then they launch as a group, often chattering, and usually land close by.

Checking out a swizzle stick.

Checking out a swizzle stick.


Nah, there's better stuff here in the grass.

Nah, there’s better stuff here in the grass.


SNBU’s often take off in unison, a beautiful patterned mosaic of brown and white. Here they are landing into the wind.

Here’s what Steven Moss of The Guardian recently wrote about these wonderful birds:

Snow buntings are, without question, the toughest small bird on the planet. No other songbird ventures so far north, and stays so far beyond the Arctic Circle, during the grim northern winter, when they – and the local people – must endure weeks of almost permanent darkness.

Snow buntings are so hardy that they are one of only three species of bird to have been sighted at the north pole – the other two being seabirds, Kittiwake and Fulmar.

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