Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Snow Bunting 2

On the Red Wing (Minnesota) Christmas Bird Count, Erika and I tallied 46 Snow Buntings.  I was surprised by their bright rusty sides, especially compared to the birds I saw near Northfield in November.  The bird on the far left, on the other hand, seems exceptionally pale.

In my November post, I mentioned that Snow Buntings nest in rock cavities. Ideal nesting sites are in short supply.  To claim their sites, males return to the arctic in April, at least a month before the females.  The males use the nest site to attract the females.  The nest cavities are relatively safe from predators, but they are cold.  Consequently, once incubating, the female is fed on the nest by the male.  This care allows the female to fledge young both relatively quickly and successfully (Bruce and Montgomerie 1995).

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