Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Snow Buntings!

Every fall I watch the dunes while on one of my favorite beach walks for one of my favorite winter birds. Snow buntings arrive some time around the end of October each year and can be found at many Cape beaches that have protected dunes. They fly in from the arctic, where they breed each summer and when they first arrive you might be lucky enough to see a few still in their full breeding regalia. They are a lovely, elegant little bird with beautiful markings. Even in the winter I think they are quite lovely to behold.I think many people mistake them for sparrows, for they gather in small flocks, twitter as they are feeding and spend much of their time feeding on seeds on the ground.They are very well camouflaged and many folks probably walk right by them without a thought. I just get a kick out of them. They are quick and spunky and I love to watch them rise up and chase a crow or a hawk in a big cloud of wings and feathers. When they land they land with a bit of a chattering ruckus as if to say, can you believe the nerve of that guy?On this sunny afternoon I didn't want to get too close and disturb their feeding and I knew they had a good eye on me. My camera has a decent zoom which is how I got these pictures but they don't really show how beautiful these little birds are.
I snapped this quickly as they rose up to chase a crow and you can see how their wings simply shine in the afternoon sun. If you're near some dunes on a Cape beach walk, keep your eyes and ears open for signs of snow buntings. These birds winter at Kalmus Beach in Hyannis but other flocks are noted throughout the Cape all winter long.

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