Ahhhh, my first day of the holiday season vacation! Of course, this just means I swap career work items for honey do work items but it sure feels great to be able to sleep in a bit. Knowing all the things I have to get done over this break, figured it would be prudent to get some December posts out of the way. So, I bring you today’s featured feathered friend.
I took this while out hiking the Red Rock Canyon in Nevada (outside of Las Vegas). We’ve been there a couple of times now and based on the previous posts and some that are still in the hopper, I must say it has produced a surprising number of checks in the bird list – add in the marks gained from Henderson and Nevada has been very very good to me – they obviously have better wildlife than they do politicians. For those not aware, this particular specimen comes from the Dark-Eyed Junco family. Their long black hood is pretty distinctive in the birding arena. The Dark-Eyed Juncos have been featured on the blog a number of times now (links here, here and here). Because of they are relatively common (they show up in droves here every Winter). I usually don’t get too excited about capturing them but as a rule, “never pass up a bird shot”. Once again this principle has likely led to a new mark in the bird list.
If you look at the specimens in the links above or live in the Midwest you are familiar with one variation of the Dark-Eyed Junco – the Slate Colored group. They are aptly named in that they are pretty much dark gray colored from head and top feathering through to the tail. Typically they have a white underbelly with some variation in gender. There is a White-Winged group, a Gray-Headed group and a Pink-Sided group to name a few, but none of those variations have the distinctive executioner hood. It is this specific feature that led me to the determination that this is an Oregon group Dark-Eyed Junco.
Hit the jump to see a couple more pictures of the Junco (a different one to be specific) and learn a few facts about this little bird.
The Juncos are actually part of the Sparrow family but luckily are distinctive enough they can be easily identified compared to the rest of the Sparrow population. They are very abundant in North America during the Winter months and for me personally I can tell when Winter is just about upon us by noticing when they appear below the feeders. Note, the “below” was specific due to rarely ever seeing them actually on the feeder rods.
According to the Cornell All About Birds website, they are primarily seed eaters but due expand out to small insects during the breeding season – must want to bulk up to impress the ladies. They primarily nest near the ground which also aligns with their preferred foraging level.
You should be happy to know that these cute creatures have a Least Concern Conservation Status (yeah). Guessing it helps to have such a wide habitat range. That’s about it in the reference arena. All that is left is to put the check in the bird list box and that will be done immediately after hitting publish. Take it easy everyone and stay safe over the holiday season.
2 thoughts on “On the Trail of Oregon”
The Dark-Eyed Juncos we have around here in the winter seem to have a more defined dark head, with the boundary at a uniform distance all around from the crown. These seem to have a more irregular border and the border extends more on the belly side.
Hmm, I should check this online, hold on. I’m back. I don’t know, but that’s how the ones feeding on my birdseed looked, as if you just dipped the bird upside down in a vat of dark ink.
Anyway, thanks for the pictures!
The main difference is in the belly – guessing seeing as how you live in Chicago that you have the same Juncos as we do here in the South which means their belly should be bright white.