Thursday, February 4, 2010
Actually, Junco hyemalis is more often referred to as the Dark-eyed Junco, perhaps as a nod to our friends in the north. In addition to their dark eyes, juncos have a white belly and a light-colored pinkish beak that stand out against their otherwise slate-grey body. They've also got white in their outer tailfeathers, which you may notice especially when they're in flight. That white gives the junco some camouflage in the snow. They may not need it so much here, but their winter range includes places as cold as the Dakotas -- which still beats spending the winter in northern Saskatchewan.
here and here.
In the wild: Look on especially on forest floors as you're hiking, but in the winter juncos can also be in fields and roadsides as they forage for food. Keep an eye out for them hopping around and pecking in the leaf litter, or flying into the underbrush to get away from you.
Any other tips for spotting juncos? Have you seen any recently? Let us know!