02.07.21: Resting junco

A Dark-eyed Junco perches on a branch in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

A Dark-eyed Junco perches on a branch in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

When juncos return to Ohio, winter follows

There are many birds that I tie to different seasons.

For instance, colorful warblers migrate through Ohio in the spring and fall. Red-winged Blackbirds are very noisy in Central Ohio parks during their spring breeding season. Goldfinch fill local fields with yellow during late summer.

But when the goldfinch start disappearing and Dark-eyed Juncos show up I know it’s time to break out the heavy coats because winter is coming.

Juncos are the true snowbirds of North America. They spend their summer breeding months in Northern Canada and Alaska. When winter comes they will fly south, but it doesn’t seem like they are looking for balmy temperatures. Instead I see them hopping in the Central Ohio snow, happily looking for food.

Other birds visit feeders in the winter, grabbing food before flying off. Juncos prefer to find food on the ground that has been dropped from feeders. They also forage in fallen leaves or bare patches in snow.

The bird is a member of the sparrow family. Most of the juncos I’ve seen have been a dark slate gray above and bright white beneath with a pink bill, but the top feathers can vary into shades of brown in some regions. 

Tech specs

  • Date/time: Dec 17, 2005 11:16 AM   
  • Camera: Canon EOS 20D
  • Lens: Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L +2x 
  • Focal length: 600mm
  • Aperture: f/7.1
  • Shutter: 1/1000 second
  • ISO: 400

When the goldfinch start disappearing and Dark-eyed Juncos show up I know it’s time to break out the heavy coats because winter is coming.