Just before dawn, 4th try, I walked out on the breakwater at the marina at Long Branch Lake SP, Macon County, stopped where the white grass is on the trail near the right hand bend in the jetty and set up the spotting scope. I waited for five minutes then moved forward toward the distal end of the jetty about ten feet. Almost instantly there was brief motion of a small something in the white dry grasses on the right side of the gravel path about 30 feet in front of me. I waited without moving, then saw it move again and hop up on a rock. Moving very slowly so as not to launch the bird off the jetty, I got binoculars trained on the moving spot and it was a snow bunting. 


After three failed attempts trying to find this bird, which was reported by myriad other birders about every other day for a week or so, I now believe snow buntings really do still exist. It vanished again down among the rocks where it could have been the whole time I was looking for it on previous visits in the howling wind.  This morning was windless, so I was able to photograph it several time through a 20 X scope without being jostled and blown over by the wind. The images looked okay in miniature on the back of the digital camera. It was mostly pushing through the grasses picking seeds from the culms or off the ground.


Thanks to others who reported it often enough to get my hopes up. I usually wait until the first snow covers the plowed field and only a dirt strip is visible along the edge of the paved roads or patches are melting to ground on the gravel roads. I usually drive up some of the roads that parallel US 63 on the east side.  Anywhere from Sturgeon on up to Edina, there have been flocks of 500 or more Lapland longspurs, horned larks, meadowlarks, juncos, several sparrow species, goldfinches, mourning doves, and several snow buntings in among them on most occasions in winter. I have seen up to 150 this way in Holt Co. on the Xmas count.  The northern harriers patrol up and down the road trying to jump on something, but usually not having any luck with the birds.


Last winter was a bust for snowy owls and snow buntings, so now I am searching for snowy owls, along with scoters, long-tailed duck, mountain. bluebird, Townsend’s solitaire, etc.  


Any leads?




Brad Jacobs

Missouri Department of Conservation

P.O. Box 180

Jefferson City, MO 65102

573-522-4115 ext. 3648


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