Sunday, January 4, 2015

Dark-eyed Juncos!

Dark-eyed Juncos, a mostly winter bird for our area, are, in my view,  one of the cutest avian species.  Along with the Tufted Titmouse and the Marsh Wren, their shape and button eyes make them so adorable!

According to Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Juncos spend their summers on breeding grounds all over Canada and western mountains of the U.S.  We start to see them in New England around November and increasingly through December.  By January they can be seen flitting about our woodlands and backyards, often mingling with the Tufted Titmouse and Black-capped Chickadee in the north or Pine and Palm Warblers in the southeast.  Even on the coldest of days they're moving about gathering food not only to fill their bellies but as part of the warming process.  Full belly means warmer body.

The distinctive gray body and pink bill (that often looks white from a distance) make it very easy to spot a Dark-eyed Junco.  It looks especially striking against snow.  Being a member of the sparrow family they have a round compact body with a moderate-sized head (proportionally speaking) and longish tail feathers.  Like the titmouse and wren aforementioned the proportion and placement of the eye is the clincher to what makes this critter so darn cute.

Having twelve subspecies, the Dark-eyed Junco is considered a "polytypic" species.

No sketches today, sorry.  But here's a few links to some decent photos and more learning:

Spend a few minutes looking out your back door or windows today.  You'll be rewarded!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Year!

Snowy owl on dune, PRNWR Jan. 2014.  WC sketch from personal photo.
For New Year's Day I went our birding early in the morning with a friend.  Unfortunately, our adventure was a quiet one.  I think we went out too early.  As the morning hours passed many more people were out birding and finding things.  One report of a prairie falcon on Plum Island  came in.  Despite our best effort, we weren't lucky enough to site it.

Conditions: 8-11am.  Bright sun, clear sky.  COLD, temps hovering in the teens.  And WINDY.

Location: Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, Salisbury State Beach and Hampton State Beach

Tidbit: Snowy owls are not migratory but, rather, they are nomadic.