About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Why juncos are called snowbirds

A Dark-eyed Junco subspecies - the Slate-color...Image via Wikipedia
• Dark-eyed Juncos are often called “Snowbirds,” possibly due to the fact that they are more likely to visit feeding stations during snowy periods. Many people also believe their return from their northern breeding grounds foretells the return of cold and snowy weather. Another possible source of the nickname may be the white belly plumage and slate-colored back of the Junco, which has been described as “leaden skies above, snow below.”

• According to Project Feeder Watch, Juncos are sighted at more feeding areas across North America than any other bird. Over 80% percent of those responding report Juncos at their feeders.

• To avoid the competition, many females migrate farther south than most of the males. Up to 70% of Juncos wintering in the southern U.S. are females. Males tend to stay farther north in order to shorten their spring migration and thus gain the advantage of arriving first at prime breeding territories.

• Juncos, along with some other members of the sparrow family, practice an interesting foraging method called “riding.” They fly up to a seed cluster on the top of a grass stem and “ride” it to the ground where they pick off the seeds while standing on it.

• The longevity records for Dark-eyed Juncos is 10 years.

Source: WBU Educational Resources-Juncos