McKay's Bunting: Large bunting, bright white body, black wing tips, black markings on back and tail. Large bill, legs, and feet are black. Said to be the whitest of all North American songbirds. Forages on ground. Swift flight, alternates raping wing beats with wings pulled to sides.
Range and Habitat
McKay's Bunting: This species has a very limited range. They breed on Hall Island and Saint Matthew Island in Bering Sea off the west coast of Alaska. They spend winters east to coast of western Alaska, parts of the Aleutian archipelago, and on Nunivak Island. These birds nest in coastal tundra habitats.
Longspurs and Snow Buntings (Calcariidae)
Most of the small birds such as finches, thrushes, sparrows, and buntings are members of the one hundred and eighteen families found in the largest taxonomic order of birds; the PASSERIFORMES (pronounced pas-ser-i-FOR-meez).
Longspurs and Snow Buntings are in the Calcariidae (pronounced cal-ca-RI-uh-dee) family. There are six species in three genera.
All six species of the Calcariidae family occur in North America, however the McKay’s Bunting is only found along the west coast of Alaska.
Longspurs can live in a wide variety of habitats and can eat between 3,000 and 10,000 seeds or insects per day.
Members of the Calcariidae family are small active birds with cone-shaped bills.
The longspurs have a wider range of color, from buff and chestnut to brown and black, along with black and white marked heads. The buntings are primarily black and white.
All of the Calcariidae occur in North America. Only the Lapland Longspur and the Snow Bunting occur in Eurasia as well. Members of this family can be found on tundra, mountains, beaches and grasslands.
Members of this family are short distance migrants.
Calcariidae eat both seeds and insects, they also gather in flocks in the winter.
McKay’s Bunting is listed by the IUCN as Near Threatened due to an estimated population of less than 6,000. The Chestnut-collared Longspur is also listed as Near Threatened from habitat loss.
Some winter flocks of Lapland Longspurs have been estimated at over four million birds.