I was looking out the window this morning to assess the damage from the wind we had experienced all day yesterday and last night (compliments of Hurricane Sandy!) when I noticed a small flock of dark-eyed juncos feeding at the edge of the woods. This winter visitor is commonly called the “snowbird” and, coincidentally, we had our first light snowfall of the season last night.
The dark-eyed, slate-colored, or northern junco (ornithologists just can’t seem to be able to make up their minds what to call these birds!) is a rather striking bird in the sparrow family – this picture doesn’t do them justice! For the most part ground-feeders, they prefer to eat flower and grass seeds or the seeds that fall from our feeders. This species has a definite social hierarchy (the so-called “pecking order) and are fun to watch as they scrap with each other over the food.
These amiable little birds are part of the larger winter flock of songbirds that forage the fields and will be with us until late spring when they migrate north to their breeding grounds.