Then it’s time for the last bird in this series of Arctic Species. The Snow Bunting is the only regularly occurring member of the song birds on Spitsbergen. There are other song birds showing up occasionally, but it took me 6 years to see any other species as the Snow Bunting. The song of the Snow Bunting isn’t very impressive or complicated, but it’s always a cheerful sound to hear on the tundra.
This song can be first heard on Spitsbergen in March, but the majority of the birds arrives in April. They are predominantly seedeaters, but will also catch insects, especially when feeding their chicks. They built their nest in protected places like rock cracks or sometimes even in buildings and they can have several clutches in a year. Their breeding cycle is very quick, with only an incubation fase of around two weeks and then another two weeks before the chicks fledge.
In August-September, when summer is over, the birds leave again to their wintering grounds on the Russian steppes north of the Caspian Sea and in Kazakhstan.