"Return of the Junco" sure sounds like it could possibly be a horror movie of some sort. I mean, for someone who has no idea what a Junco is... why not? Then, for those who may be reading this and truly dread the on-coming winter season, and know what a Junco is, it could be horror in real life.
So, on Friday October 16th 2009 I happened to notice one Dark-Eyed Junco hopping around the backyard (I actually thought I heard one earlier in the week but since I had no visual I put that to the back of my mind and made a mental note to keep my eyes and ears open when in the yard). So, this is the first one of the season, which is scary because Autumn arrived only 24 days ago and winter is still some ways off. I know there is no set date on when birds should come and go for migration but this could be taken as a sign of a long cold winter coming for 2009/2010.
Here are some facts about the Dark Eyed Junco...
The Dark-eyed Junco is a medium-sized sparrow with a rounded head, a short, stout bill and a fairly long, conspicuous tail.
Juncos vary across the country, but in general they’re dark gray or brown birds brightened up by a pink bill and white outer tail feathers that periodically flash open, particularly in flight.
Juncos are birds of the ground. They hop around the bases of trees and shrubs in forests or venture out onto lawns looking for fallen seeds. You’ll often hear their high chip notes, given almost absent-mindedly while foraging, or intensifying as they take short, low flights through cover.
Juncos breed in coniferous or mixed-coniferous forests across Canada, the western U.S., and in the Appalachians. During winter you’ll find them in open woodlands, fields, parks, roadsides, and backyards.
So, not much can be done with what may be coming weather-wise, like it or not... lets just welcome the early return of our winter backyard bird visitors and may the many soon to follow a safe journey as well.
Here is a couple pics of the Dark Eyed Junco. The first one I took out back last winter. The second I borrowed from allaboutbirds.org as it's a much better shot. These birds are quite elusive and camera shy. I will see a dozen from my kitchen window but a step outside and most fly for cover.