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Nov 24, 2011

Snow Buntings in Greenland

                                                                                                                                             Jon Vidar Photo
After writing about Snow Buntings two blogs ago, I went to bed that night with my copy of Ken Kaufman's Lives of North American Birds.   Ken Kaufman notes that these buntings are sometimes called "Snowflakes", for their winter-time, swirling, low-level flying.   He goes on to say: "In summer they retire to barren northern tundra, with some breeding on the northernmost islands of Canada and the mountains of Greenland".   Greenland?   Mountains?   I had always assumed Greenland was a gigantic slab of ice, year-around.   Out of bed... back to the computer... hit Google... go to Wikipedia.   Including the Snow Bunting, Greenland has recorded 240 species of birds!  170 of these are rare or accidental.   I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by 39 species of ducks and geese, or 32 species of sandpipers, but 24 new world warblers?!?   Here's a sampling of some of the other shockers for me: Pacific Loon, Little Blue Heron, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Glossy Ibis, Purple Gallinule, Bohemian Waxwing, Marsh Wren,Yellow-headed Blackbird, and Mourning Dove.   These birds should know better.   Well, maybe not the Mourning Dove.   
As for mountains in Greenland, there are  90 over 1/2 mile high, of which five are over 10,000 ft.   Judging by the photo above, by Jon Vidar, Greenland is indeed green, in spots and at certain times, but the ice cap and small glaciers still cover 85% of Greenland.
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