Plectrophanes nivalis (Linn.), Syst. Nat. i. p. 308 (1766) ; (Naum.) iv. p. 297, Taf. 106, 107 ; (Audubon) B. Am. pl. 189 ; Hewitson, i p. 184, pl. xlvi. fig. 3 ; Gould B. of E. iii. pl. 170 ; id. B. of Gt, Brit. ; Newton, ii. p. 1 ; Dresser, iv. p. 261, pl ; 224, 225, fig. 2 ; (Sharpe) Cat. B. Br. Mus. xii. p. 572 ; Tacz. F. O. Sib. O. p. 550 ; Saunders, p. 225 ; Lilford, iv. p. 14, pls. 7, 8.
Ortolan de neige, French ; Schneeammer, German ; Sneeuwgors, Dutch ; Snespurv, Dan. and Norweg, ; Snosparf, Swed. ; Sniotitlingr, Solskrikia, Icel. ; Allap, Lapp. ; Lumisirkku, Finn. ; Podoroschnik, Russ.
Male ad. (Lapland). Back, primaries, except at the base, spurious wing, inner secondaries and scapulars, and central rectrices bla:k ; the rest of the plumage pure white ; bill and legs black ; iris dark brown. Culmen 0.45, wing 4.2, tail 2.5, tarsus 0.9, middle toe with claw 0.55 inch. The female differs in having the black feathers with white or buffy white margins. In the winter the head, neck, and upper parts are reddish buff or pale chestnut streaked and marked with black, the quills and tail- feathers blackish with warm buff margins, the secondaries chiefly white ; under parts white, the flanks washed with rusty yellow and streaked with brown, the chest marked with rusty yellow.
Hab. The Arctic portions of both continents, breeding in the mountain ranges of Norway, Sweden, Greenland, Iceland, the Faroes, and Scotland, migrating south in winter to the Mediterranean (very rarely) ; Japan, Manchuria, and N. China ; in America to the Northern United States ; goes nearer to the Pole than any other Passerine bird.
In habits it resembles the Larks much more than the true Buntings, being usually seen on the ground, where it runs nimbly, hiding when alarmed, and only occasionally perching on trees or fences. Its call-note is a prolonged tsee, and its song is said to be a pleasant twittering warble often uttered on the wing. Its food consists of insects and seeds, the latter chiefly during the winter. It breeds in June, placing its nest, which is constructed of grass-bents and a little moss, lined with feathers or down, in the cleft of a rock or under a stone. The eggs, 5 to 6 in number, are bluish white marked with rusty brown or blackish brown spots and blotches, and measure about 0.82 by 0.65. Ridgway describes s.n, P. nivalis townsendi (Man. N.A. Birds, p. 403), a form from the Prybilof Islands, Alaska, Commander Islands, and Kamchatka ; which he says is “larger with a much larger and longer bill” than P. nivalis, but I do not consider it as separable. But his P. hyperboreus (P. U. S. Nat. Mus. vii. p. 68, 1884), from Hall Island, St. Matthew’s Island, and Alaska, differs in being pure white with only the tips of the five outer primaries, and the tips of the median rectrices black, and is undoubtedly a good species.
538. Plectrophanes nivalis