No, this isn’t a quiz. Juncos (a type of small bird in the sparrow family) migrate to my area in the winter from more northerly climates where they summer (How’s that for a switch? These birds actually come south for the winter to Connecticut for a “mild” change of pace!)
They are called dark-eyed juncos in my part of the country but apparently out west they have many more colorations. I won’t ask–it gets too confusing. As it is, this is a change from when I was a child and the birds–all of them I believe–went by the name “slate-colored” juncos. In my part of the country they are slate gray above and white below–at least the males are.
I ask the question, “where are the juncos,” because they usually return to my backyard somewhere between the second and fourth week of October. I’m still waiting to see them. And while they’re fairly shy birds, they’re not as secretive as wrens. If you don’t notice them poking around the shrubbery and leaf litter looking for a meal, you’ll certainly see then when they take off on their swooping flight when you startle them from their task.
Because I do keep this 365 day a year garden journal and I am now in year 6 of it, I started noticing mention of the juncos around the time I noticed mention, in prior years, of first frosts and “heat on.” But so far this year, the juncos have been conspicuously absent. I don’t know if it’s the abnormally warm fall we’re having that’s causing them to linger up north or an extraordinarily good supply of something else–a food source, I would guess.
Whatever it is, I really don’t mind. They say that when you see your first junco, you’ll have your first snow 6-8 weeks later. The later the juncos the later the snows. And that’s fine with me!