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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

BirdNote: Winter Brings Snow Buntings

Air Date: Week of

A snow bunting. (Photo: Gregg Thompson)

These tiny brown and white-streaked birds are visual delights of winter weather, and reporter Mary McCann describes the qualities that make them feathered favorites.


CURWOOD: It’s Living on Earth, I’m Steve Curwood.


CURWOOD: As winter advances in the northern hemisphere, it’s time to bundle up and enjoy our friends and visitors, especially some rare ones, as Mary McCann observes in today’s BirdNote.

Winter Brings Snow Buntings

[Sound of winter wind]

On this December morning, imagine looking outside to see plowed fields and a cloud of wind-driven snow approaching.

[Sound of winter wind]

Undulating back and forth, the small cloud finally settles to the brown earth. Now it’s clear – that rolling white cloud isn’t snow at all, but a flock of Snow Buntings. These birds bring the barren landscape to life.

[Rattling call of Snow Buntings]

Sparrow-sized, Snow Buntings begin their lives amid the harsh conditions of the high Arctic. [Snow Bunting song] And unlike nearly all other songbirds on the continent, they’re feathered in immaculate white, highlighted in winter with rich, rusty brown.
They’re prized winter visitors to the northern tier of states. Look for them along shorelines, in farmland, and open country – landscapes that mirror the Arctic tundra where they fledge their young. [Rattling call notes of Snow Buntings]

I’m Mary McCann.

Written by Bob Sundstrom
Sounds of the Snow Bunting provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Call and song recorded by Gerrit Vyn; call recorded by W.R. Evans.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2010/2016 Tune In to Nature.org December 2016 Narrator: Mary McCann

[MUSIC: Pat Donohue, “December Waltz” on Profile]

CURWOOD: For pictures of these lovely visitors, flutter over to our website, LOE.org.



Listen on the Birdnote® Website

More on the Snow Bunting


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