Beyond the BackyardMerritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

The MINWR Snow Bunting

On Black Friday I had the opportunity to photograph two rare birds in Florida: the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and the Snow Bunting.  The Snow Bunting lives in the Arctic, breeding in the northernmost parts of Canada.  In the wintertime its range extends down to northern Pennsylvania or Maryland.  But not normally to Florida!  So when this little beauty showed up at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, it attracted lots of photographers.  When I drove up to Parking Lot #8 at Canaveral National Seashore, I knew I wouldn’t have to look hard to find the bird.  It was out on the side of the road, surrounded by photographers, who were actually sitting in the road to take its picture!  The cool part was that pretty much everybody at the parking lot was there to see the bunting.  He was really tolerant of people, and he foraged in the grass right in front of our willing lenses.  Donna started yelling “too close!” instead of “card full!”  Then he flew away, only to reappear a few minutes later in the parking lot.  Although I’d seen the Palm Coast Snow Bunting a few years ago, it was still fun to see and photograph this rare–and very pretty–bird.  And unlike the poor birdie in Palm Coast, this one had a tail! :)