Before talking about snow buntings I should touch on another species which summers in Minnesota but tends to winter in the southern United States and the Caribbean. The species I’m referring to is the Snowbird. They usually have white to gray markings around the head and tend to congregate around bodies of water in Minnesota during the summer. They begin to migrate south in late fall, with the peak of the migration occurring just about or just after Christmas. An interesting observation has been that many of them tend to tow with them a wheeled nesting shelter. The return of the snowbirds begins in March and is mostly concluded by Memorial Day.
Snow buntings are an entirely different sort of bird in that they actually spend their winters in Minnesota. We can see them right now in large flocks. The clouds of light colored birds swarm near roads and weedy patches. They feed on various seeds that drop from nearby plants and pick the tasty morsels from the snow. Snow buntings spend their summers in the Arctic, nesting on the barren tundra. I’ve always felt it odd that any creature would actually come to Minnesota for the winter. It’s good that the snow buntings come to take up some of the slack left by the snowbirds.