Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis)
Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis). Juvenile. Taken at Farmoor, Oxon., on November 13th 2011.
Juvenile. Taken at Farmoor, Oxon., on November 13th 2011.
(1/640th sec at f14. Click image for larger version. © David Hastings)


L: 15½ - 18 cm

Snow Buntings are relatively large buntings, with striking "snowy" plumages. Males in summer have all white heads and underparts, contrasting with a black mantle and wing tips. Females are more mottled on their upperparts. In autumn and winter birds develop a sandy/buff wash to their plumage and males have more mottled upperparts.

It is only resident in the Scottish highlands. In winter it can be found in Scotland, and northern and eastern England.

It breeds in high-alpine habitat, but also on northern rocky coasts and tundra.

Birds migrate to the UK from Iceland and northern Europe in the winter.

It is an Amber list species in the UK, owing to the small number of breeding birds. There are around 60 breeding pairs, and between 10000 and 15000 birds overwinter here.


13-Nov-2011 : Farmoor Reservoir, Oxon (1)
11-Mar-2007 : Farmoor Reservoir, Oxon (2)
18-Nov-2005 : Farmoor Reservoir, Oxon (1)