December 26, 2022
Look to open grassland, farm fields, lake shores and the edges of rural roads during the cold winter months to find this week’s Bird of the Week, the Snow Bunting. Summering in the arctic tundra of northern Canada, the Snow Bunting migrates to southern Canada and the northern US for winter and is often seen in large flocks with Lapland Longspurs and Horned Larks. They seem to always be on the move, swirling together across open landscapes as they forage on the ground for seeds, keeping an eye out for raptors such as the Northern Harrier and American Kestrel that see the bunting as a tasty meal. During summer, the male is bright white with a black back and wing markings. During its time in Michigan, the bunting’s feathers take on a rustier appearance which helps camouflage the bird from predators. Regardless of the season, a bright white wing patch helps to easily identify this flighty bird. As the winter progresses, the bunting takes on a lighter appearance as it uses hard packed snow to clean itself. This unique cleaning process wears down the brown feather tips, revealing bright white plumage. Bring your binoculars and don’t wait too long to catch a glimpse of this Michigan winter resident. Your best chance of spotting a Snow Bunting in the mitten state is between November and early March.
Click the link to see this adorable bird in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gmGdolEOco&ab_channel=DominiqueLalondeFilmsNature