Dark-eyed Junco

In a large, rambling yard this morning, many small birds were feeding in a mixture of tall and short grasses, bushes and trees – Eastern Bluebirds, Chipping Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows, more than a dozen House Finches, an Eastern Phoebe, Downy Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Mockingbird and at least one singing Carolina Wren. It seemed like the place to be. A flock of Cedar Waxwings perched in the bare branches of a pecan tree. A Ruby-crowned Kinglet stuttered as it moved through a bush. A Northern Flicker called a sharp kleer!

Then a small, very dark gray bird flew up from the grass into the edge of a shrub along a fence – its dark, solid color with flashes of white standing out against a background of mostly brown and muted tones. It was a Dark-eyed Junco, the first one I’ve seen here this season – another returning winter resident. A plump, slate-gray bird with a round head, pink bill, white belly, and white feathers on the edges of the tail, a Dark-eyed Junco usually forages in grassy areas with flocks of sparrows and other ground-feeding birds. Its light, jingling trills sound to me like a ringing of small bells. Usually there are several together, but this one seemed to be alone – though there might have been others around that I just didn’t see.

Nearby, a Chipping Sparrow perched in a yellow-leafed bush, its plumage an autumn mix of dark and light streaked brown, with a smooth gray breast, white eye stripe, and faded reddish-brown crown.

Leave a Reply