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Conservation status: Amber

Snow buntings are 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 a more mottled above. In autumn and winter birds develop a sandy/buff wash to their plumage and males have more mottled upperparts. Globally they breed around the arctic from Scandinavia to Alaska, Canada and Greenland and migrate south in winter. They are a scarce breeding species in the UK, in Scotland, making tham an Amber List species. They are more widespread in winter in the north and east when residents are joined by continental birds.



Latin name

Plectrophenax nivalis


Buntings (Emberizidae)

Where to see them

Best looked for in winter on coastal sites in Scotland and eastern England (as far south as Kent).

When to see them

Most commonly seen in winter, arriving from late September and leaving in February and March.

What they eat

Seeds and insects


EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*
-60 pairs10,000-15,000 birds-




Dougie Preston, Xeno-canto

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