Mystery Bird: Snow Bunting, Plectrophenax nivali

tags: , , , ,

[Mystery bird] Snow Bunting, Plectrophenax nivali, photographed in Minnehaha County, South Dakota. [I will identify this bird for you tomorrow]

Image: Terry Sohl, 19 January 2009 [larger view].

Photo taken with Canon 50D, 400 5.6L lens.

Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.

Rick Wright, Managing Director of WINGS Birding Tours Worldwide, writes:

The angled commissure of emberizid buntings always makes them look like they're smiling, don't you think? The bright white plumage, pale bill, and terrestrial habit make this Snow Bunting easy to identify.

This January bird's feathers are 5 to 7 months old, the product of a pre-basic molt undergone in July, August, or September; this species does not have a pre-alternate molt, assuming its natty black and white breeding "plumage" through abrasion: the dull tips of the feathers wear off over the course of the winter to reveal the contrasty colors beneath. We can actually see the worn state of the scapulars in this photo.

I believe that the bright white greater coverts visible here sex the bird as a male. I've never really been able to figure out how to age Snow Buntings in the field -- pointers appreciated!

Review all mystery birds to date.

More like this

tags: Snow Bunting, Plectrophenax nivalis, birds, mystery bird, bird ID quiz [Mystery bird] Snow Bunting, Plectrophenax nivalis, photographed near Cameran Lake Road, Okanogan County, Washington State. [I will identify this bird for you tomorrow] Image: Marv Breece, 26 November 2008 [larger view…
tags: Purple Finch, Carpodacus purpureus, birds, mystery bird, bird ID quiz [Mystery bird] Purple Finch, Carpodacus purpureus -- a hatching-year bird of unknown sex -- photographed in central New York. [I will identify this bird for you tomorrow] Image: Rick Wright [larger view]. NOTE: Rick…
tags: Orchard Oriole, Icterus spurius, birds, mystery bird, bird ID quiz [Mystery bird] Orchard Oriole, Icterus spurius, photographed at Sabine Woods and Sabine Pass area, Texas. [I will identify this bird for you tomorrow] Image: Joseph Kennedy, 28 April 2008 [larger view]. Nikon D200, Kowa 883…
It should not be surprising that the decline of most bird species may be attributed to changes in their habitat. These changes may include human-related causes such as increased farming, urban sprawl, industrial development, logging, drilling and mining. Global warming is to blame for earlier…

Snow Bunting, 1st Winter Male. Buff colored crown, and grey-black primaries. But darker than the adult winter plumage.

By Red Dragon (not verified) on 31 Mar 2009 #permalink

As Red Dragon failed to notice the cuteness of this little fluffy buddy ;-)
I´m gonna say it: AAAAWWWWWWWW

And yes, it looks like a Snow Bunting...

Lovely little snow bunting.

Sadly, the open field where I last saw a flock of snow buntings swirling about in a whirl of snow has long since been turned into a mega-strip-mall/movie theater complex.