English  | Français  | Español
Lists:  CAN        
Number of species: 80

Select a species:

  
 
:   Clear  

Snow Bunting - Plectrophenax nivalis

Sex of Snow Buntings is easily determined by the lesser and median coverts, which are white on males, and black on females. Males are also aged readily by the amount of black in the primary coverts and tip of the primaries; ageing of females can be more tricky, but often possible through the amount of white on the inner web of the primary and greater coverts.

Quick Tips:

  • Examine the lesser and median coverts - females have black or black with white tipped lesser and medians coverts, while males have entirely white lesser and median coverts.
  • Look at the primary coverts - on HY/SY males they tend to be white with blackish tips, while on AHY/ASY males they are entirely white or white with a few black spots; HY/SY females have entirely black primary coverts while AHY/ASY females have white inner webs.
  • Check the shape of the rectrices - on HY/SY birds they are narrow and pointed while on AHY/ASY birds they tend to be more broad and rounded.

Species account prepared by McGill Bird Observatory

Click on any image below to bring up the side-by-side comparison tool.
Age / Sex  Image sets 
Second year / Male
Lesser and median coverts entirely white; dirty-white secondaries with dark gray streaks, S1-S3 mostly or entirely white; blackish alula and primaries; primary coverts white, the tips sometimes with varying amount of gray.
Thumbnail - MG2-2741-62405-Plectrophenax_nivalis_AOU_7_52-3903.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2741-62405-Plectrophenax_nivalis_AOU_7_52-3901.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2741-62405-Plectrophenax_nivalis_AOU_7_52-3902.jpg
Date: Jan 16
Second year / Female
Lesser and median coverts mostly gray, sometimes with white edging; dirty-white secondaries with dark gray streaks; S1-S3 with substantial blackish; primary coverts all black; greater coverts without white on inner web.
Thumbnail - MG2-2741-62630-Plectrophenax_nivalis_AOU_7_52-3897.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2741-62630-Plectrophenax_nivalis_AOU_7_52-3895.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2741-62630-Plectrophenax_nivalis_AOU_7_52-3896.jpg
Date: Feb 23
After second year / Male
Lesser, median and greater coverts entirely white; alula and tip of primaries jet black contrasting sharply with pure white adjacent feathers; primary coverts entirely white or with minimal blackish spots on outer coverts.
Thumbnail - MG2-2741-62407-Plectrophenax_nivalis_AOU_7_52-3891.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2741-62407-Plectrophenax_nivalis_AOU_7_52-3889.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2741-62407-Plectrophenax_nivalis_AOU_7_52-3890.jpg
Date: Jan 16
After second year / Female
Lesser and median coverts mostly gray with white edging; dirty-white secondaries with dark gray streaks; S1-S3 with substantial blackish; primary coverts with large amount of white on inner web; greater coverts with white on inner web.
Thumbnail - MG2-2541-73584-Plectrophenax_nivalis_AOU_7_52-3888.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2541-73584-Plectrophenax_nivalis_AOU_7_52-3886.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2541-73584-Plectrophenax_nivalis_AOU_7_52-3887.jpg
Date: Jan 14

Additional age / sex class descriptions

The following additional age / sex class descriptions were found for this species:
Age / Sex   Age / Sex class description
Hatch year / Female Lesser and median coverts mostly gray, sometimes with white edging; dirty-white secondaries with dark gray streaks; S1-S3 with substantial blackish; primary coverts all black; greater coverts without white on inner web.
Juvenile / Unknown Head and underparts dusky with blackish streaking.
Hatch year / Male Lesser and median coverts entirely white; dirty-white secondaries with dark gray streaks, S1-S3 mostly or entirely white; blackish alula and primaries; primary coverts white, the tips sometimes with varying amount of gray.
After hatch year / Male Lesser, median and greater coverts entirely white; alula and tip of primaries jet black contrasting sharply with pure white adjacent feathers; primary coverts entirely white or with minimal blackish spots on outer coverts.
After hatch year / Female Lesser and median coverts mostly gray with white edging; dirty-white secondaries with dark gray streaks; S1-S3 with substantial blackish; primary coverts with large amount of white on inner web; greater coverts with white on inner web.
Number of species: 80

Select a species: