My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Dark-eyed Junco, Junco hyemalis

These little members of the sparrow family are some of the most common birds throughout North America. When I was younger, many people referred to them as snowbirds, but I have no idea where that came from. In west Michigan, there are a few around all summer long, but large flocks of juncos arrive here in late fall to spend the winter here. Maybe that’s how they became known as snowbirds.

Adults generally have gray heads, necks, and breasts, gray or brown backs and wings, and a white belly, but show a confusing amount of variation in plumage details. Their white outer tail feathers flash distinctively in flight and while hopping on the ground. The bill is usually pale pinkish.

They are most often seen on the ground, searching for seeds which make up the majority of their diet.

Dark eyed junco eating dandelion seeds

Dark eyed junco eating dandelion seeds

During the winter, they often join in mixed species flocks along with chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, and others as the flocks search for food near the edges of woods. The juncos are typically found on the ground or near it, with the other species flitting about in the trees above the juncos.

Because they spend so much time on the ground, and are rather shy birds, getting good clear shots of them has proven difficult for me, but I do have a couple of recent shots.

Dark eyed junco

Dark eyed junco

Dark eyed junco

Dark eyed junco

Dark-eyed junco

Dark-eyed junco

Dark-eyed junco

Dark-eyed junco

Dark-eyed junco

Dark-eyed junco

Dark-eyed junco

Dark-eyed junco

 

I could go back and search my archives for a few more, but none are as good as that last one. I think that one of the good things about doing a photo lifers list is that as I get better photos of species of birds, I’ll be able to come back to these pages to add the newer photos quite easily.

This is number 13 in my photo life list, only 337 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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4 responses

  1. Northern Narratives

    This is another one of my favorites birds. The always arrive in early October. Then who knows where they spend the winter.

    January 26, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    • I think that they move around depending on the snowcover, but I could be wrong.

      January 26, 2013 at 5:09 pm

  2. Always such sweet looking birds – my grandfather called them snowbirds – I was born in central Mich, lived there 5 yrs, moved around the east coast, but last year movved to the Pacific Northwest, where I have to learn a lot of new birds. The junco here is the Oregon, with a bolder black hood (male) but much the same demeanor (and those white flashing tail feathers) as those I’m used to back east.

    February 18, 2013 at 3:31 pm

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