Snow Bunting at Tsawwassen Ferry Jetty

On Tuesday afternoon (16 Nov) I found my self at the Tsawwassen ferry terminal jetty after spending the morning at Reifel Bird Sanctuary. The water on both sides of the jetty was packed with birds; particularly waterfowl, of which there must have been at least a few thousand birds from a decent assortment of species. Horned, Western, and Red-necked Grebes were also present as well as a fair number of Common Loon and at least one Pacific Loon. It was on my way off the jetty, however, that I came across two Snow Buntings on the shoreline of its southern facing side.

Both birds, an adult and first winter, were foraging, preening, and resting roughly 500m from the jetty’s base. I was in a vehicle and only spotted them when I was right on top of their position but luckily both birds stayed put; a far cry from my first Snow Buntings of the year at Iona’s south jetty. On the 30th of October I put in almost three and a half hours of careful scanning along the jetty’s entire length and the result was just a few minutes with a single Snow Bunting. The birds on the Tsawwassen jetty were quite cooperative giving me about 15 minutes of great views before they were flushed by a person walking their, off leash, dogs.

The first winter bird was more apt to be photographed than the adult; who spent most of its time foraging in and amongst the logs and rocks. The younger Bunting was quite content to sit perched atop a piece of drift wood a few metres away from where I sat watching it from the window of my car.

In North America Snow Bunting breed in rocky areas of arctic tundra stretching from Alaska, across the northern limits of Canada, to Greenland (1). Hopefully these birds will spend the rest of the winter in the area before returning north to be the first migrants on the tundra in early spring (1).


  1. Lyon, Bruce and Robert Montgomerie. 1995. Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online:




2 Responses to “Snow Bunting at Tsawwassen Ferry Jetty”

  1. 1 Rick Wright November 19, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Thanks for this! I haven’t been able to find the species for my Vancouver Long Weekend group yet, so hope your birds are still there when we hit Tsawwassen Sunday or Monday.

  2. 2 Marc November 20, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    Glad to be of service Rick! I hope you manage to track the two of them down when you make it out there.

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