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Snow Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

IUCN Red List history

Year Category
2012 Least Concern
2009 Least Concern
2008 Least Concern
2004 Least Concern
2000 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1994 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern

Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency Does not normally occur in forest
Land mass type   Average mass 42.2 g


  Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 6,830,000 medium
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 19,100,000 medium
Number of locations -
Fragmentation -

Population & trend

  Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals poor Estimated 2009
Population trend Decreasing -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Largest subpopulation - - -
Generation length (yrs) 3.9 - - -
Population justification: The global population is estimated to number > c.40,000,000 individuals (Rich et al. 2004), while national population sizes have been estimated at < c.1,000 wintering individuals and < c.50 individuals on migration in Japan and c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs, c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration and c.50-1,000 wintering individuals in Russia (Brazil 2009).
Trend justification: This species has undergone a large and statistically significant decrease over the last 40 years in North America (-63.6% decline over 40 years, equating to a -22.3% decline per decade; data from Breeding Bird Survey and/or Christmas Bird Count: Butcher a.

Country/Territory distribution

Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Breeding Non-breeding Passage Resident
Algeria Vagrant Extant        
Austria Native Extant   Yes    
Bahamas Native Extant        
Belarus Native Extant   Yes    
Belgium Native Extant   Yes    
Bermuda (to UK) Native Extant        
Bosnia and Herzegovina Vagrant Extant        
Bulgaria Native Extant   Yes    
Canada Native Extant     Yes  
China (mainland) Native Extant        
Croatia Vagrant Extant        
Czech Republic Native Extant   Yes    
Denmark Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Estonia Native Extant   Yes    
Faroe Islands (to Denmark) Native Extant       Yes
Finland Native Extant     Yes Yes
France Native Extant   Yes    
Germany Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Greece Vagrant Extant        
Greenland (to Denmark) Native Extant       Yes
Hungary Native Extant   Yes    
Iceland Native Extant       Yes
Ireland Native Extant        
Italy Native Extant   Yes    
Japan Native Extant        
Kazakhstan Native Extant        
Latvia Native Extant   Yes    
Lithuania Native Extant   Yes    
Luxembourg Vagrant Extant        
Malta Vagrant Extant        
Mongolia Vagrant Extant        
Montenegro Vagrant Extant        
Morocco Vagrant Extant        
Netherlands Native Extant   Yes    
North Korea Vagrant Extant        
Norway Native Extant Yes      
Poland Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Portugal Native Extant   Yes    
Romania Native Extant   Yes    
Russia (Asian) Native Extant       Yes
Russia (Central Asian) Native Extant       Yes
Russia (European) Native Extant Yes      
Serbia Vagrant Extant        
Slovakia Native Extant   Yes    
Slovenia Native Extant   Yes    
South Korea Native Extant        
Spain Native Extant   Yes    
St Pierre and Miquelon (to France) Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Native Extant Yes      
Sweden Native Extant       Yes
Switzerland Native Extant        
Turkey Vagrant Extant        
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) Native Extant        
Ukraine Native Extant   Yes    
United Kingdom Native Extant       Yes
USA Native Extant Yes      

Important Bird Areas where this species has triggered the IBA criteria

Country/Territory IBA Name IBA link
Finland Käsivarsi fjelds site factsheet
Finland Kevo site factsheet
Finland Lemmenjoki-Hammastunturi-Pulju site factsheet
Finland Saariselkä and Koilliskaira site factsheet
Norway Dovrefjell site factsheet
Norway Hardangervidda site factsheet
Norway Reisa site factsheet
Norway Sirbma fields site factsheet
Norway Slettnes site factsheet
Norway Varanger Peninsula site factsheet
Russia (European) Lapland Biosphere Reserve site factsheet
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Adventdalen & Adventfjorden site factsheet
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Bjørnøya (Bear Island) site factsheet
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Inner parts of Kongsfjorden site factsheet
Sweden Middagsfjället - Dörrshöjden site factsheet

Habitats & altitude

Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Grassland Tundra major breeding
Grassland Tundra major non-breeding
Marine Coastal/Supratidal Sea Cliffs and Rocky Offshore Islands suitable breeding
Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks) suitable breeding
Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks) suitable non-breeding
Altitude 0 - 0 m Occasional altitudinal limits  

Threats & impact

Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Climate change & severe weather Habitat shifting & alteration Timing Scope Severity Impact
Future Whole (>90%) Unknown Unknown
Indirect ecosystem effects, Ecosystem degradation


Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Pets Whole Adults and juveniles Wild Subsistence, National Non-trivial Recent
Pets Whole Adults and juveniles Wild International Non-trivial Recent
Sport Whole Adults and juveniles Wild Subsistence, National Non-trivial Recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Plectrophenax nivalis. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Emberizidae (Buntings, American sparrows and allies)
Species name author (Linnaeus, 1758)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 6,830,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Summary information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment