A Harbinger of Winter

A Harbinger of Winter

A few weeks ago I noticed a new visitor to my birdfeeders or, more specifically, the ground beneath my feeders.  It was a cute, little, charcoal gray and white bird with a little pale beak. At first I assumed I was imagining the color… maybe I was just looking at a common sparrow with a dark shadow being cast along its back.  Then I realized that it was a perfectly sunny day, and a perfectly sunny spot, and nothing else in the surrounding area was being darkened by a shadow.

Well, I’m pretty sure you know what happened next… yes, yes, there was a lot of delighted screaming: “New bird, new bird!!!”  Now of course before I had a chance to grab my camera and document it,  he or she took off. So the next couple of hours entailed lots of obsessive yard watching to confirm my initial sighting. Happily, later in the day I spotted one on a tree branch and then, soon after, about a dozen of the diminutive charcoal birds flocked to the grass beneath the feeders. There they were, just pecking at the ground, committed to finding any fallen seed. Now confident in my earlier description of these chubby wee birds, I easily located information about the little guys: I was now being visited by Northern “Slate-colored” Juncos (Junco hyemalis) or “snowbirds”.

Click on any image to enlarge

Junco in fall tree


Slate-colored junco


Slate-colored junco

Now, what are juncos? As it turns out they are members of the sparrow family… this is more apparent in some of the lighter colored individuals. They frequent more northern climes for the most part, nesting in upper Michigan, Wisconsin, Canada and the like. But once the weather starts turning toward chilly here in southern Michigan, juncos start packing their bags and coming on down to call the lower Great Lakes area home too. They usher in our holiday season and colder months. Apparently they revel in the snow, hence their affectionate moniker. I’m now more than a little excited to see what “snowbird” antics will be on display once the fluffy, cold white stuff starts falling.

So, I guess winter is really upon us.  And how do I know?  Well you must have guessed by now: a little birdie told me so 🙂

Junco in winter tree


  1. Mary Ellen
    Jan 4, 2013

    We want more birdies! We want more birdies! 🙂

  2. Sue Taylor
    Dec 19, 2012

    Delightful commentary and such a cute bird! Happy holidays!

  3. Mary Ellen
    Dec 19, 2012

    Looks like Myriam’s yard is for the birds! Literally! 🙂

    Love your blogs! Keep them coming!

    • Myriam
      Dec 20, 2012

      Will do my best. Thanks for the chuckle.

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