Dark-eyed juncos in March

Dark-eyed junco (Junco hyemalis).


It seems like I’ve been ignoring the birds at the feeders, but the truth is the birds haven’t been coming to the feeders on these really cold, snowy days. No cardinals. No chickadees. No woodpeckers. Nothing but the dark-eyed juncos and one male house finch, so far as I have seen.


I hope the birds of January have made short migrations to better feeding areas, or perhaps have simply stayed in the park across the street where there is more and better shelter. I hope they have not died. Surely not. At least not all of them.


The dark-eyed juncos, our snowbirds down from Canada, are still here. As cute as ever.


They are spending more time at the feeders rather than under them, and also perched in the nearby serviceberry bush. It’s hard to be a ground feeder with 6″ of fresh snow on the ground on top of a foot of icepack. Also, the feeders haven’t had enough traffic to accumulate many seeds under them.


I see the juncos come and go from the nearby holly tree, or shrub. I bought that holly to be a tree, so I dislike calling it a shrub. But it looks like a shrub. Anyway, the juncos disappear under its snow-covered branches. When I go out, I can see many many tracks under the holly. Perhaps the juncos snuggle together in the cold as David George Haskell, in The Forest Unseen, reports chickadees sometimes do.

Yesterday, we got another 6″ of snow. Today was predicted to be below freezing, but the temp is up to 30° at noon, beating the predictions by 6°. That’s nice.

Then, we’re supposed to have a real warm-up, into the 40s and 50s, the next few days. Oh my. That sounds so wonderful. Thoreau writes about walking along the railroad tracks and hearing the first cracking and trickling of spring as the ice and snow start to melt in the sunny places. That’s what I am ready for, as are most people, I think. Probably the birds too.


I hope all the feeder birds come back soon. When they do, I’ll certainly report their return.

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