Last October, a small group of a new type of bird showed up in our back yard.
They’re distinctive looking and I’m pretty sure I hadn’t ever seen them before. We certainly hadn’t seen them at this house in what was at the time about two and a half years.
Cute little baby dinosaurs, they have a black head, a white underbelly, and they tend to be ground feeders.
We had a half-dozen or so of them at first, but soon there were more. They love the shrubs that we and the neighbors each have along our fence lines. And they loved whatever we had on our lawn.
It wasn’t long before we started putting out some bird seed for them. Word must have gotten around, because most of the winter we’ve had more like two dozen of them around.
They hop, they flit, they scurry, and then all of a sudden they simultaneously all bolt to the bushes. (The shadow of a hawk often immediately follows.)
With time I started to get better pictures, although they don’t hang out for long when I go out into the back yard. But with better pictures came an ID in the Cornell Lab Merlin app.
These are Dark-eyed Juncos, a type of sparrow. They apparently have a lot of color variation between different populations, which you can see in looking at these pictures. But the basic “chunky Junco” body, black head, white belly design is consistent. There just may be differences in detail in the grey areas.
When I found out what they are I was told that they’re migratory and won’t stay for long, so I expected them to be gone by now. But the steady food supply may have convinced them to sit tight for a while.
Fine by me! They’re now getting bold enough to come up onto the back patio (okay, seed gets spilled there and they’re voracious) and cute as can be, so they can hop around the back yard as long as they want!