The snow bunting is the most common passerine species in Svalbard. It is often found close to settlements but ts is also breeding among auks in the bird cliffs around Spitsbergen. Like many Arctic species it has a perfectly adapted plumage in white and black. For many people in Longyearbyen, the arrival of the snow bunting is a true sign of summer in the high Arctic.

Copyright: Roy MangersnesA proud male snow bunting sitting on a colorful rock in Spitsbergen. Copyright: Roy Mangersnes

Snow bunting is the most northerly breeding passerine in the world. It has its own alarm call for arctic fox in Svalbard. A repeated, somewhat decreasing in pitch << pijuuu – pijuuu>> warns other buntings that there is an arctic fox approaching.

Even though it is midnight sun in the Arctic, snow buntings show to have less activity around midnight – cirkadian rhytm (24hrs cycle).

Because birds are so well adapted to fly, they are able to increase or decrease certain organs in periods when they are not used. The inner testicles in some birds can increase almost 300 times their size during the breeding season compared to the nonbreeding season.

Snow bunting has actually been observed at the North Pole. The observation was done by people onboard an American submarine (!).

Copyright: Roy MangersnesSnow bunting is the most northerly breeding passerine in the world, and are common on Spitsbergen. Copyright: Roy Mangersnes

Learn more about wildlife on Svalbard
The information on this webpage is from the Amazing Arctic book by Eirik Grønningsæter. If you want to learn more about the amazing Arctic wildlife, order a copy of the book.