It has two members, which may be conspecific.
They are high Arctic breeding seed-eating birds with stubby, conical bills, and much white in the plumage, especially in adult males. They nest in rock crevices. As would be expected, both species are highly migratory, wintering in more temperate areas.
The plumages are similar, but McKay's has more white and less black in the plumage, especially in the wings and tail. Adult breeding males of both species are mainly white with contrasting black on at least the wings, but are duller in winter. Females have white and brown plumage. The calls of both species are identical and include a low warbled hudidi feet feet feew hudidi feet feet feew hudidi.
- Byers, Olsson and Curson, Buntings and Sparrows ISBN 1-873403-19-4
- Mullarney, Svensson, Zetterstrom and Grant, Collins Bird Guide ISBN 0-00-219728-6
- Hofstad E, Espmark Y, Moksnes A, Haugan T & Ingebrigtsen M. (2002) The relationship between song performance and male quality in snow buntings (Plectrophenax nivalis). (Canadian Journal of Zoology. vol '80', no 3. p. 524-531)