Well, new to me here anyway. I had hiked to the north-end and back this morning before the snow got too soft, with nothing new to show for it, and just as I approached the soccer fields at the south end, I spotted a hand-full of little dark birds flitting about in the bushes. As luck would have it, one was more interested in what it was finding than it was worried about me, at least long enough for me to capture a couple of images. Give a warm New Years welcome to this little dark-eyed junco (Junco hyemalis) who looks to be near the north edge of its winter range.
I can still hear in my head my grandmother pointing out juncos to me at the bird feeder she had just outside her kitchen window. If you also have a feeder, perhaps you’ve seen them, too. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “juncos are among the most common songbirds of North America,” so it is a wonder that it took me this long to notice them.
The Pedia of Wik explains that “junco systematics are still confusing after decades of research, with various authors accepting between three and twelve species. [Yikes! And] despite having a name that appears to derive from the Spanish term for the plant genus Juncus (rushes), these birds are seldom found among rush plants, as these prefer wet ground, while juncos prefer dry soil.” Go figure, eh?
Meanwhile, on the river, the mallards have moved a bit north, the mergansers were nowhere to be found, and a bunch of herring gulls were in for a visit.