This has to be one of my favorite birds. I wait for this junco all summer long. He is such a sturdy fellow....bravely faces our Northern winters. I love the birds that brave our weather...they are so faithful and bring us pleasure on days when winter can be a bit much. Yesterday morning I was in bed and heard a trilling that I had been waiting for. I knew right away what it was. My juncos were back. For now I will refer to this bird as him. His sound is similar to a phone ringing lightly. I jumped up and my husband said, "Where are you going?" I said that I heard a bird and wanted to look at the feeder. There were no birds there. I went back to bed and didn't hear the sounds again. Later in the day hubby said, "Is that the bird you were looking for?" There they were...two little birds hopping on the deck, cleaning up the seeds that other birds dropped. Darn...he saw the first one. My friend, Nancy, and I race each year to see who sees the first one. Oh, well...next year. Here is some info on these dear birds who entertain us all through the winter.
Flaming red maples, fading goldenrods and slow-chirping crickets are all clues that summer is winding down and autumn is sneaking in. The change brings mixed emotions, but one joy is the return of those perky, chunky, six-inch-long slate-gray birds with white bellies -- dark-eyed juncos. Traveling in small flocks, these distinctive sparrows appear predictably from the last week of September into the first week of October under cover of darkness. I often hear their soft twitters before I first spot them scratching the ground under shrubbery or hopping from branch to branch in dense foliage.
Along with shorter days and frosty nights, returning juncos foretell the coming of winter. Early nature watchers gave these winter harbingers a name -- snowbirds -- and their scientific name, Junco hyemalis, reflects their association with winter: hyemal from Latin means winter. Many juncos spend winter with us, but countless others continue south as far as they choose. They delight us from October through March, then push north in April.
I am glad to say that these birds are welcome in my yard. They clean up under the feeders and for some reason..have started visiting the feeders and the suet feeders. Hope you have juncos in your yard too.