Saturday, March 1, 2014

Snow Birds

The Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) is the most well-known species of the Juncos, a genus of small grayish American sparrows. Easily recognizable by their crisp markings and bright tail feathers they are one of the most abundant forest birds of North America.

They're called "snow birds" since in most of the eastern U.S. they appear as winter sets in and retreat northward by springtime. Their appearance at backyard feeders in temperate areas is considered a sign of winter's arrival.

In North America, Black-eyed Juncos are one of the most common birds, found across the continent from Alaska to Mexico, California to New York. Recent counts place the total junco population at about 530 million. (Wonder who did all that counting?)

Dark-eyed Juncos are mainly seed-eaters and at feeders, prefer millet over sunflower seeds. During breeding season, they also eat insects, including beetles, moths, butterflies, caterpillars, ants, flies and even wasps.

Most of the year, these birds are solitary, but during the winter months they often band into small flocks or form mixed flocks with other small, seed-eating birds such as chickadees, nuthatches, and other sparrows, like these. 

What's at your backyard feeders now?


Anonymous said...

Beautiful photos. I see birds in my yard, but don't know their names.

Debbie said...

Who's not at my backyard feeders would be a better question for me!! The entire gangs here, I see all of the birds you pictures here!!

You got some really wonderful, focused images!!

Have a wonderful weekend!!

Charlotte Wilson said...

Dorothy and Pat,
I am learning about birds from my blogging friends like you! I know we must have juncos here but I am not sure. I do recognize woodpeckers, wrens, finches, Eastern bluebirds, blue jays and most prominate: cardinals. They are all at 4 feeders along with the occasional squirrel. Ha! And yesterday we had a hawk!

all the best,


Anonymous said...

Beautiful birds!

I think I heard cranes in the air this morning and the meadow lark has arrived as well around two months early. I do hope this mild weather stays now!

Have a great day!

Emma Springfield said...

Lovely pictures and such great information. I so enjoy learning new things. But it does look cold there.

Lois Evensen said...

Pretty little ones. At our feeders? We will find out in a couple of weeks when we get home. :) We are so looking forward to getting home!

Elaine said...

I have a hard time thinking of Juncos as snow birds since we only see them in the summer. They seem to like nesting under our deck. They need to start making their traveling plans.....

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