One Tough Little Bird
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The species I’m featuring tonight is the Snow Bunting. This finch-like little bird breeds in the Arctic and is visible on the moors and marshes of Svalbard. It is the only passerine species (all songbirds included) to be found on the archipelago and its territory may have the northernmost reach of any bird species in the world. Anecdotally, one of these birds was once spotted at the North Pole by the crew of a United States nuclear submarine. It’s anyone’s guess as to what it was doing up there.
These little birds migrate south in winter, but they still prefer cold climates. They are wintertime residents of the northern tier of the United States.
Snow Buntings are the only species in the Upper Arctic that “sings.” Other species of birds that one finds up there have calls: however, they are usually one- or two-note honks or grunts. But, the Snow Bunting has a true, warbling song that can be heard at quite a distance. The buntings that I encountered on Svalbard were relatively unafraid of humans. It was quite possible to approach within 15 feet or so of one of these birds if one moved quietly and slowly.
Images made with a Canon 5Diii. Both images made with a 400 DO, aperture preferred setting, ISO 800. The first image was shot at f7.1 @ 1/800, the second at f7.1 @ 1/1250.