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BIRD OF THE WEEK
BLUE-EYED GROUND DOVE
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Columbina cyanopis
POPULATION: Estimated at just 16 individuals.
IUCN STATUS: Critically Endangered.
HABITAT: Tropical savanna of eastern Brazil.
The aptly named Snow Bunting is a bird of extremes. It may look like a feathered snowflake, but don’t let its small size and immaculate white feathers fool you: The Snow Bunting is a tough survivor that breeds on frozen tundra in sub-zero temperatures. It’s also the most northerly recorded passerine in the world.
One of the Snow Bunting’s most obvious adaptations to its extreme environment is its color. Like the Snowy Owl, Arctic Hare, Arctic Fox, Polar Bear, and ptarmigans, its mostly white coloration serves as effective camouflage in its open, snow-covered habitat. Snow Buntings also have feathering on their ankles, an adaptation providing added warmth on the high Arctic tundra of North America, Europe, and Russia.