Snow Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis
The only common passerine species on Svalbard. Most numerous on fertile ground and particularly on west Spitsbergen, in fjord areas, and vegetated parts of south-east Spitsbergen and on Bjørnøya.
Features: 16-17 cm. In size slightly larger than House Sparrow. Easily recognizable by the large white wing patches, seen well in flight. Can hardly be confused with other species on Svalbard, but note that young birds that have recently left the nest are mainly brown. The Snow Bunting is almost the only singing passerine on Svalbard. Sings from early May until July. The song is short with clear flute-like and twittering sounds. In flight a single contact call «pyui» often followed by a characteristic short bubbling trill. Display flight is common.
Breeding: The nest is built well hidden in cavities, often in screes and crevices in rocks. It is built of straws and other parts of plants. The nest cup is insulated with down (often from Ptarmigan) and hair from foxes and reindeer.