Snow Bunting

Plectrophenax nivalis


Snow Buntings are sparrow-sized birds which breed around the Arctic from Scandinavia to Canada, but migrate to the UK in the winter. There are also some resident Snow Buntings in the UK, which breed in Scotland. Snow Buntings build their nests in rock crevices on bare mountain slopes or rocky shores and lay four to six eggs.

How to identify

Black and white during the summer, Snow Buntings become buffy and streaky in the winter. However, when they fly, Snow Buntings still look black and white, with white patches on the wings and black wingtips.

Where to find it

Breeds in small numbers in the Scottish Highlands. Winters around the coasts of northern and eastern Britain.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

To help populations of all our birds, The Wildlife Trusts are working towards a 'Living Landscape': a network of habitats and wildlife corridors across town and country, which are good for both wildlife and people. You can support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.

Species information

Common name
Snow Bunting
Latin name
Plectrophenax nivalis
Finches and Buntings
Length: 16cm Wingspan: 35cm Weight: 35-42g Average Lifespan: 3 years
Conservation status
Classified in the UK as an Amber List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review.