Bird Families

About flights of snow buntings Plectrophenax nivalis


Snow buntings arrive at their nesting sites quite early - from late March to the first half of May. In May - early June, when the nesting period begins, the males "dress" in black and white plumage and occupy the nesting sites. At this time, the birds split into pairs and begin to build nests. The song of male snow buntings is fast, with many trills. The female builds a nest from moss, lichen, stems and leaves of dry grass. She lines the tray with soft grass, wool, or feathers. No other bird of the bunting family so diligently insulates the nest.

Usually the bunting lays six, rarely eight eggs. Eggs are greenish-white with dark spots. After 14 days, chicks hatch from the eggs. Parents tirelessly feed them, and after 10 days the chicks make their first attempts to get up on the wing.


Buntings nest in the tundra, which stretches in a narrow strip along the northern coast of North America, Iceland, Scandinavia and in the northern part of Siberia, as well as on the islands of the Bering Strait. The extreme southern nesting sites are in the Scottish Uplands, near the Cairngorm Ridge. Buntings live near the sea coast in the rocky tundra covered with lichens. Sometimes they nest on sparsely vegetated mountain peaks and stony "seas" of the glacier, at an altitude of over 1,000 m above sea level.


Bunting eats seeds of various plants, grasses, buds and insects. In summer, air currents bring flocks of winged insects into the inhospitable Arctic regions. Here, in the snowy fields, they reach the final destination of their journey and freeze. Nesting snow buntings eat this food "sent from heaven" with pleasure, because the fast growing chicks need nutritious food (snow buntings feed their chicks exclusively with insects).


Bunting is common along the northern coast and on the islands of Europe, North America and Asia. Buntings are rare guests in the central regions of Europe. Here these birds appear only during flights to warm regions and back. Snow buntings come here when especially severe winters are raging. Sometimes these birds even appear on the coast of the Baltic Sea. At wintering grounds, they usually live in reed thickets along the banks of rivers and lakes. Bunting females are similar to the reed bunting and Lapland plantain females.


  • People who meet "lonely snow buntings" in the depths of the continents are most often mistaken. The birds they see are albino sparrows, which are quite common in some areas. Therefore, it is very important to pay attention to the color of the bird's wings in flight. The snow bunting has black wings.
  • In the extreme south - the nesting place of snow buntings in Europe, in Scotland, no more than 15 pairs nest. These birds were first spotted here in 1886.
  • There are known populations of snow buntings that lead a sedentary lifestyle. For example, Icelandic birds keep nesting all year round.
  • A large flock of snow buntings, rising into the air, resembles a snowstorm.


Female in winter dress: unlike the male, it does not have such large white spots on its wings.

Flight: diving. Large white spots are visible on the wings. The illustration shows a male in winter plumage.

Beak: black in summer, yellow in winter with a black tip.

Male in breeding outfit: the head, lower back and ventral side are white, the middle of the back, the wings and tail are black.

- Bunting nests
- Wintering


Bunting bunting nests in the northern regions of our hemisphere, that is, from the island of Spitsbergen to Kamchatka and from Alaska to Iceland and Norway. Birds overwinter in central Europe and Asia, as well as in North America.


Snow buntings are quite numerous in the tundra far to the north. The species is not threatened with extinction due to the fact that the nesting areas of these birds are located in remote areas.

Punochka. Birds of Brateevograd. Video (00:00:56)

She is occasionally seen in winter in Brateevo and Maryino. Seen several times in spring and autumn. In the fall, they flew along the bed of the Moskva River. Sometimes they sat down near the coast near the mouth of Plintovka and slowly migrated downstream.

Snow buntings on the beach in Jaunkemeri. Video (00:00:19)

A pair of migratory tundra snow bunting birds on our beach. Such funny birds, and not too shy.

30 Snow Buntings / 30 Sneeuwgorzen (Plectrophenax Nivalis). Video (00:02:46)

A group of 30 Snow Buntings filmed while drinking and foraging and flying as a group. Snow Buntings come from the North and stay mainly close to the coast.
(Plectrophenax Nivalis)
Een groep van ongeveer 30 sneeuwgorzen gefilmd tijdens het drinken, foerageren en het vliegen als groep. Sneeuwgorzen komen uit het Noorden en blijven hoofdzakelijk bij de kust.

Abstract of a scientific article on biological sciences, the author of the scientific work is Dementyev G.P., Lebedeva M.I.

Second edition. The first publication in 1960. Dementyev G.P., Lebedeva M.I. 1960. About flights of snow bunting // Ornithology 3: 112-113.

Text of the scientific work on the topic "On the flights of snow buntings of Plectrophenax nivalis"

Literature Kostin Yu.V. 1983. Birds of Crimea. M .: 1-240.

Spangenberg E.P. 1951. Detachment of the shepherdess Ralli or Ralliformes // Birds of the Soviet Union. M., 3: 604-677. Crockford N., Green R., Rokamora G., Schaffer E., Stowe T., Williams G. 1996. Corncrake // Globally Threatened Birds in Europe: Action Plan. Strasbourg: 205243.

Russian Ornithological Journal 2007, Volume 16, Express Issue 385: 1485-1486

About flights of snow bunting Plectrophenax nivalis

G. P. Dementyev, M. I. Lebedeva

Second edition. First published in 1960 *

The snow plantain, or snow bunting, Plectrophenax nivalis, is a typical circular polar species. On the nesting site, it lives in the coastal (usually rocky) tundra of the Old and New World and on the islands of the Arctic Sea, the northern part of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Flying south in autumn, it disperses in winter over the vast expanse of North America and Eurasia, reaching, especially in severe winters, the Mediterranean and North Africa (Dementiev 1954).

V.F. Larionov (1927) discovered an anomalous sex distribution in snow buntings in winter: the northern regions are occupied exclusively by males, while in the south, females predominate significantly. In another article, Larionov (1931) deals with various aspects of the snow bunting ecology in winter. Like other Zarctic species, snow bunting is of great interest in relation to seasonal distribution and especially in relation to the distribution of its individual populations during wintering, especially since the geographical variability is rather weakly expressed in them and the taxonomic assessment of migratory and wintering populations is difficult.

That is why the resolution of the question posed requires massive ringing. It is developed, however, for obvious reasons, it is not enough. This is clearly seen from the article by V.A. Arseniev (1947), which indicates the places of ringing of these birds, and T.P. Shevareva (1957). According to the last author, from 1925 to 1954, only 415 buntings were marked in our country.

* Dementyev G.P., Lebedeva M.I. 1960. About flights of snow bunting // Ornithology 3: 112-113.

Rus. ornithol. zhurn. 2007. Volume 16. Express issue No. 385 l with

However, in Greenland, according to F. Salomonsen (Solomonsen 1956), from 1946 to 1954, 2788 snow buntings were ringed, and 74 rings returned. Important for us, however, are the small facts published by the same Salomonsen (1957, 1959) about some of the results of the ringing of snow buntings in northeastern Greenland. So, 2 of the birds ringed there in May were recorded in April in the USSR - one in the Arkhangelsk region, and the other in the Komi ASSR. In addition, we have data on the production of 2 more buntings, apparently ringed in the same place. One of them with a ring “Zool. Mus. Denmark 850 135 "was caught on April 8, 1960 in the Arkhangelsk region (Mezensky district), another with a similar ring No. 877929 in the village of Shoina on the Kanin peninsula.

These still few facts suggest that snow buntings nesting in northeastern Greenland cross the Arctic Ocean in autumn and move to winter in the European part of our country. Their return journey passes through the northern regions: the Arkhangelsk region and the Komi Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, where they were found in the spring migration.

Likewise, snow buntings, nesting in Northern Alaska, migrate across the Arctic Ocean. Thus, two of them, marked in the summer of 1953 with American rings Nos. 50107111 and 51279913 at Cape Barrow, were caught on April 13, 1954 and April 23, 1955 on a flight in Yakutia: in the village of Sinsk (Ordzhonikidze district) and in the village of Oymyakon.

Arseniev V.A. 1947. On migrations of snow buntings Plectrophenax nivalis Linnaeus // Tr.

Centre. Banding Bureau 6: 95-96. Larionov V.F. 1927. On the Determination of the Numerical Sex Ratio in Birds in Nature // Tr. lab. Moscow zoo 3. (Larionov V.F. 1931) Larionov W. 1931. Material zur Biologie der Schneeammer //

Bull. Soc. Nat. Moscou 40: 66-78. Dementyev G.P. 1954. Bunting family Emberizidae // Birds of the Soviet

Union. M., 5: 374-512. Shevareva T.P. 1957. Summary table of bird ringing (for 1925-1954) //

Tr. Banding Bureau 9: 5-45. Salomonsen F. 1956. The Greenland bird-banding system // Arctic 9. Salomonsen F. 1959. Ottende Forelobige liste over genfundne gronlandske ringfugle // Dansk Ornithol. Foren. Tidskr. 53.

Rus. ornithol. zhurn. 2007. Volume 16. Express Edition No. 385


Its name snow bunting got from the Lappish word "punak". The body length of this pretty bird reaches 16.5 cm, weight ranges from 26 to 40 g. The male in breeding plumage has a large part of the back and wings, as well as middle and partly extreme tail feathers, are black, the rest of the bird's surface and a wide oblique stripe on the wings are white. In the female, the pure black color is replaced by a black-brown color, which also extends over the head, and all dark feathers are bordered by a light rim. In winter, the color of the bunting changes sharply, namely: all dark feathers, as well as white feathers of the chest and sides of the body have a more or less wide rare border, in the same way the black beak becomes orange-yellow. The general tone of the winter color matches the general color of the clearings with brown grass, not covered with snow, on which the bunting holds at this time.


  • Buntchka, or snow plantain, or snow maiden - Plectrophenax nivalis: description and pictures

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See what "Punochka" is in other dictionaries:


- Plectrophenax nivalis see also 18.28.3. Genus Punochka Plectrophenax Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis In the male in summer the back is black, in the male in winter and in females there is a dark gray stripe on the shoulder, the middle of the tail is black. Breeds throughout the tundra zone, on ... ... Birds of Russia. Directory

- PUNOCHKA, and, wives. Small northern bird of this. oatmeal. Ozhegov's Explanatory Dictionary. S.I. Ozhegov, N.Yu. Shvedova. 1949 1992 ... Ozhegov's Explanatory Dictionary

- PUNOCHKA, punk women. punk arkhan. Punish husband. winter plantain, little dwarf, bird Emberiza (Plectrophanes) nivalis, in some places another bird, pine, Coccotraustes. Dahl's Explanatory Dictionary. IN AND. Dahl. 1863 1866 ... Dahl's Explanatory Dictionary

- a bird of the bunting family. Length 15-19 cm. Distributed circularly, nests in the tundra, for the winter flies south to the steppe zone ... Big Encyclopedic Dictionary Dictionary of synonyms

- and, pl. genus. check, dates chkam, f. Small northern bird of this. oatmeal. * * * Bunting is a bird of the bunting family. Length 15-19 cm. Distributed circularly, nests in the tundra, for the winter flies to the south, to the steppe zone. * * * FUNCTIONAL BUNCH ... ... Encyclopedic Dictionary

- (Plectrophenax nivalis) bird of the bunting family of the passerine order. The only representative of the genus of the same name. Body length 15-19 cm, weighs 35-40 g. The plumage of the male is white with black, in autumn and winter on fresh feathers there are reddish edges. Female ... Great Soviet Encyclopedia


Circumpolar distribution - the extreme north of Eurasia and North America, the Arctic islands. In Siberia - on the Arctic coast and islands, in the Arctic tundra, and in some places they go south, to the subzone of typical or shrub tundra, as well as mountain tundra in the north of Siberia. The distribution is very uneven. In the south of the forest zone, in the forest-steppe and steppe, they regularly or occasionally occur on migrations throughout the winter. There are 5 subspecies; in Siberia, P. vlasowae.


Such birds arrive at nesting sites in early spring. Often there is still snow in such areas. Individuals try to keep in small flocks. The birds in question predominantly live in the Arctic. When they arrive in these places, it indicates that spring is coming.

Unlike most buntings, these birds are omnivorous. When snow buntings arrive at nesting sites, males begin to actively sing. This phenomenon is rarely seen in flight. Leading often occurs on cliffs and rocks.

Males are always the first to arrive at nesting sites. Only after 2-3 weeks do the females pull up. Once all the snow has melted, the birds begin to form pairs. After that, the adults try to distribute themselves evenly throughout the tundra.

It is worth noting that the considered individuals during nesting give preference to dry rocks, rocky areas, river and steep sea coasts during the construction of the nest. Such birds always try to nest in a shelter.

Birds were often spotted in rock crevices, debris, lemmings' holes, building crevices and under rooftops. The nest is often built from plant material. As a result, it turns out to be quite massive, but loose. Feathers, wool and artificial materials are used as insulating bedding.

These birds often lay up to a maximum of 6 eggs. They can be pale green or bluish in color. In addition, the surface can be decorated with rusty patches. It is worth mentioning separately that only the female is engaged in the construction of the nest and incubation of future offspring. Often, 2 clutches can be found in a year.

During wintering and seasonal migrations, snow buntings are often found in open areas. It is worth noting that most buntings return to their habitats. However, this is not typical for snow buntings. In some areas, very unusual species of such birds have been discovered.

The body size of the individuals under consideration often does not exceed 14 cm. As for the physique, buntings are somewhat similar to small finches. When the mating season begins, the male takes on a blue-blue outfit. In autumn, the considered birds have better camouflage.


Buntings eat different food, they are omnivorous. In the spring and summer, insects and their larvae are included in their diet, and berries and mushrooms are added in the fall. During the flights, they temporarily switch to a plant-based diet: tree seeds, buds and grains.

They do not disdain to hunt for prey and garbage near a person's dwelling. And in places of fishing - the remains of fish. Snow buntings feed their chicks only with insects, because they need nutritious food for rapid growth.


In tundra villages, the population considers snow buntings to be the first messengers of spring. Their massive spring migration at the latitude of the Arctic Circle takes place from mid-March - early April to late May - early June. Depending on the weather and snowiness of winter, the flight routes and the visibility of spring flocks are different. They arrive in the nesting area in April - May, even in full winter conditions. In Arctic settlements snow buntings are analogs of sparrows, where they are most common or even numerous. In their natural environment, they can most often be found along the sea coasts, where there are coastal cliffs, or better - rocky outcrops, blockages of stones or fin. They can nest in the tundra, where there are any natural shelters - mounds with lemming or old polar fox holes, river cliffs with overhanging sod, or where there is some kind of rubbish thrown by people - boxes, boards, scrap metal, etc. From arrival, males occupy territories and actively sing. Females arrive at 1-3 weeks, or even a month later, pairs are formed.Some couples leave the territory and go on wanderings, find another place. The nests are always in shelter, the places of their construction are extremely diverse. In settlements, these are boxes of heating mains and all kinds of niches in buildings, piles of timber and pipes, any secluded places in abandoned or even working equipment, in boxes and banks, under rubbish lying in landfills. On deserted seashores and in the tundra, snow buntings are most often settled in niches among stones or fins, in coastal cliffs. The nest is built by the female, from grass, wool, moss, feathers and other material. Eggs are beautiful, pale blue or greenish, less often creamy or creamy white, with a sparse pattern of small rusty, reddish, dark brown, black spots and specks, sometimes there is a thicker and more blurry speck, as well as complex black curls and hairy lines. The dimensions of the eggs are 19-25 x 15-18 mm. In clutch there are 4-7, more often - 5-6 eggs. Most of the females begin to incubate after the end of clutch, but some - earlier, sometimes sit down immediately after laying the 1st egg. It takes 12-13 days to incubate one egg. The female incubates alone, regularly flies out to feed. The chicks are covered with dark gray down, thick and rather long from above, the oral cavity is pink or red, and the beak ridges are yellow. They sit in the nest from 9 to 15 days, usually 12-14. Some couples hatch chicks twice a summer. At the nest with eggs and small chicks, they do not show concern, but only fly silently at a distance. With grown chicks and fledglings, they are alarmed with restless cries. Although snow buntings arrive very early, they nest at about the same time as other tundra passerines, so that the chicks hatch at the beginning of summer, to the abundant emergence of various insects that feed the chicks. Adults also willingly eat insects and spiders in summer. In spring and autumn, they feed on berries and grass seeds, on the coasts - on "seafood" and insects, which are collected from the seaweed and driftwood thrown out by the surf. In the villages, in cold weather, they feed on landfills, they are interrupted by crumbs. After leaving the nest, the young stay somewhere in its vicinity or wander with their parents. They fly out of the tundra in September - October. In October - November and throughout the winter, flocks of snow buntings can be found in the open areas of the forest zone, and more often in the forest-steppe and steppe: along the roads (one of the old names for snow buntings is snow plantain), on the outskirts of villages, near cattle yards. Fly to the south to Central Asia. By the spring flight, the flocks can unite, sometimes you can see many thousands of clusters. There is no strict attachment to the territory, every year they choose nesting places again.

Notes (edit)

  1. In the encyclopedic dictionary of Brockhaus and Efron, published in the late 19th - early 20th centuries, another possible local name is indicated - sea ​​dove
    ... This name is currently being applied to a different species.

  1. Boehme R.L., Flint V.E.
    A five-language dictionary of animal names. Birds. Latin, Russian, English, German, French / Under total. ed. acad. V.E.Sokolova. - M .: Rus. lang., "RUSSO", 1994. - S. 401. - 2030 copies. - ISBN 5-200-00643-0.
  2. Punochka // Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary: in 86 volumes (82 volumes and 4 additional). - SPb., 1890-1907.
  3. Gribova L.I. (comp.).
    Bunny bird - folk tales - Chukchi and Eskimo. - Kid, 1980.

Sources of information

V.K. Ryabitsev. "Birds of Siberia". Moscow-Yekaterinburg, Publishing House "Cabinet Scientist", 2014.

In early March, there are days when the smell of spring is already strong. The snow is darkening, the sun is blinding, crystal drops, sparkling and flashing, dances around the roofs.

The icy radishes of short-lived icicles are booming, breaking into pieces, the hushed poplars languish in the sunny sky. It's in the city. And on the field, yellow-smooth-rolled roads, not yet touched by the hot ray, you suddenly scare away a flock of beautiful white birds, as if they were little doves. White-headed and white-breasted, they take off fearfully and amicably, but soon fall back on the road, running along it. "The plantains have arrived!" - you will tell yourself and you will understand to yourself that soon there will be a watering hole, a cheerful drunken spring, when everything rings, sparkles with streams, smells of warmth and earth. Birds are also called plantains, or snow buntings. Now they are flying north to the tundra. Our even the most severe winter is not a burden for them. And in the warm winter with little snow, large flocks of plantains pound along with ordinary oatmeal on the blowers, threshing floors, loads of straw and oat sheaves. They fly along the rivers, where the winter sleigh runs, and along the lakes, where armies of fishermen sit and there are many crumbs, pieces of bread, frozen bloodworms and mormysh left. Birds find this free food with amazing agility. In general, the snow bunting, despite the overweight pigeon warehouse, is a very lively and mobile bird. A flock of snow plantains is the most pleasant sight: white birds fly over the winter road, over the white-blue purity, and now they are no longer visible, not audible, as if they had melted, dissolved.