Circumpolar breeding distribution. In North America, breeds along shores in Alaska and northern Canada and at high elevations in Alaska. Winters throughout southern Canada and the northern United States (and at similar latitudes in Europe and Asia).
In winter, ocean, lakes, and rivers shores; grassy fields and grain stubbles; roadsides after a heavy snow. In breeding season, rocky tundra near grassy tundra with sedges and lichens.
Feeds on the seeds of grasses and weeds from late fall to early spring, and seeds, buds, and invertebrates from late spring to early fall. Forages by pecking at food on the ground; also darts around rocks to catch basking spiders during the breeding season and gathers seeds from weed stems in the snow during winter.
Returns to the tundra very early in the spring due to fierce competition for territory. Unlike other arctic songbirds, Snow Buntings construct their nests in rock cavities, making them less susceptible to predation but more vulnerable to the cold. Produces only one brood per season, and the clutch size range is 2-7 eggs. To protect the eggs, females remain in the nest during the incubation period and receive food from their mates.