French: Plectrophane des neiges German: Schneeammer Spanish: Escribano nival
Subspecies and Distribution
P. n. nivalis
(Linnaeus, 1758) – N North America from St Lawrence I and coast of Alaska (including E Aleutian Is) E across N Canada (S to N Yukon, NW Mackenzie, C Northwest Territories, C Nunavut, Southampton I, Belcher Is, N Quebec and N Labrador) to coasts of Greenland, and N Scotland, Svalbard, Franz Josef Land and mountains of W & N Fennoscandia E to Kola Peninsula; winters from SW Alaska and S Canada (NW British Columbia E to Manitoba, Ontario, S Labrador and Newfoundland) S in USA to NW California, Utah, N New Mexico, Kansas, Ohio and Virginia (occasionally farther S on Atlantic coast) and, in Palearctic, British Is and N France E to S Scandinavia, Germany, Poland and S European Russia (occasionally S to Mediterranean and E to Asia Minor).
P. n. insulae
Salomonsen, 1931 – Iceland, possibly also N Scotland; non-breeding visitor occasionally S to Faroe Is and Shetland Is.
P. n. vlasowae
Portenko, 1937 – NE European Russia E through Siberia (including Severnaya Zemlya, New Siberian Is and Wrangel I) to Bering Strait and S to N Shelekhova Gulf and E Kamchatka; winters in C & E Asia S to N Caspian region, Altai, Mongolia, Transbaikalia, NE China, Sakhalin, Kuril Is, occasionally to N Japan (Hokkaido) and Korea.
P. n. townsendi
Ridgway, 1887 – Commander Is, Pribilofs, and Aleutian Is.
14–18 cm; 18–56 g. A large emberizid with large conical bill and relatively short, notched tail. Male nominate race breeding has head, neck and entire underparts... read more
Song, often in flight display, a short, musical “turee turee tureee turiwee”. Call... read more
Treeless, uncultivated barren rocky terrain, often near snow, also sea cliffs; often nests near or... read more
Food and feeding
Mainly seeds, but in breeding season also small arthropods. Young fed only with invertebrates, including variety of insects e.g. or orders... read more
Pair formation by late May in Greenland, breeds from mid-May through Jul in Iceland, begins breeding in late May in Scotland, and pair... read more
Most populations migratory; females move farther S than males, perhaps due to a thermoregulatory... read more
Status and conservation
Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common or very common in appropriate habitat. Has extremely large circumpolar range, within which total population of mature... read more
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