At one point in the cruise a small flock of snow buntings landed on the Healy and stuck with us for a few days. They spent most of their time patrolling the lower decks for crumbs and when we stopped for science stations they would leave the boat to join us on the ice. I spent a lot of time watching and photographing them and got a few great action shots that I used for these drawings.
Snow buntings nest on the high arctic tundra and winter in fields and coastal areas in southern Canada and the northern US. In spring the males migrate north several weeks ahead of the females. There are many reports of groups of them being seen far out at sea, on sea ice, and landing on boats in the springtime, but it is unclear whether they are dangerously off track or just taking a detour on their migration to the tundra.