Some people call the Juncos, Snowbirds.
But, the real Snowbird has just arrived in northern Minnesota over the past week, and that bird is the Snow Bunting!
These little birds congregate along the roadside in late fall, as you drive by they swirl up into the air. From the car windows, they look like little white birds as their wings flash a lot of white.
In the fall they are brown and white, but in the spring the males are a bright white and black. Now their feathers have worn down to a muted brown to match the females and juveniles of the year. It helps in their camouflage as they forage in the grass. Snow Buntings will continue their migration to the grasslands of the prairie in the central U.S.
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It’s going to be a good year in northern Minnesota for birdwatching!
This year’s fall migration has been crazy! The roadways have been filled with migrating birds. Many are being hit by cars. I have never seen so many Yellow-rumped Warblers. The Warblers along with Juncos and White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows make up the bulk of the numbers. But there’s another LBB (little brown bird) that moves through in the fall, the Lapland Longspur.
Look for the comma shape on the bird’s face for a good field mark.
The name Lapland Longspur is interesting. It would suggest that these birds have something to do with Lapland. Lapland is a region located in northern Finland, it is the homeland of the indigenous Sami people. This bird does occur in Lapland, but also all across the polar arctic. They breed on the arctic tundra and then migrate south through out North America, Asia and Europe. There are 3 recognized sub-species.
The Longspur description refers to the hind toe, which is longer and aids in scratching around in the soil. In the US, there are other Longspurs: Smith’s, McGown’s, and Chestnut-collared.
The yellow breast feathers of the Nashville Warbler has been described as “Dandelion” yellow. What do you think?
The muted colors of the basic (winter) plumaged Blackburnian Warbler.
These are adult birds in breeding plumage.
This Wilson’s is either a female or a first year juvenile. The distinctive black cap has not appeared yet – or the feathers have not grown in.
This might be a young one still begging for food.