Birder’s Notebook by Bob Andrini: 29 October Entry. I can’t talk about fall migration without mentioning the dark-eyed junco. They visit us for the winter when the weather changes up north. What causes them to head south could be many factors: the angle of the sun; changing amounts of sunlight: food source being depleted: could be multiple of factors. Whatever the cause, they start showing up in October and tell us that the fall birding season has arrived.
The plumage of the dark-eyed junco has been described as “laden skies above, snow below”. Some people call them the ‘Snow-bird’, for that is when they typically appear (or are noticed). In fact, Anne Murray recorded a song called ‘Snowbird’ in 1960’s about these birds.
Since they come and stay in the same area all winter, they establish a hierarchy (with more dominant birds chasing their subordinates) – this winter watch to see if you can see such a pattern.
Field marks for the dark-eyed junco include: gray overall except for white lower belly: white outer tail feathers; pink bill. Often as the birds fly away, they will display their white outer tail feathers. Males will usually be darker than females
One thought on “Birder’s Notebook; Dark-eyed Junco”
Thank you for your piece about the dark eyed junco. I’ve observed the patterns that you describe in the juncos that pass the winter at our feeders. In the spring their chips turn into trills as they call to each other. I didn’t connect this bird with Anne Murray’s “Snowbird”; such a nice thought!