Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Juncos



Juncos

They operate from elsewhere,
Some hall in the mountains -
Quick visit, gone.
Specialists on branch ends,
craft union. I like their
clean little coveralls

William Stafford

What would winter be without these hyper little snowbirds? They seem to take the place of Chipping Sparrows. There a few chippies lingering, but not for very long. We have a few dozen Dark-eyed Juncos in our backyard right now, scolding one another with their laser tew-tew-tew calls.

I like sprinkling safflower and sunflower chips around the base of our maple tree - the juncos seem to prefer foraging rather than taking food from a feeder. Even if I place a few small circles of birdseed on the patio, they still check every nook and cranny around the deck and alongside our house.

Some juncos migrate and some don't, but I learned an interesting fact about non-migratory juncos today. Males of sedentary subspecies may be confined to the same few square miles throughout life, but experimentally displaced male J. h. carolinensis retain the ability to return home over 300 miles to breeding sites, returning 1 to 3 weeks after displacement.

That's so cool.

Dark-eyed Junco image © 2006 Mike McDowell

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