Listen to the Dark Eyed Junko
Every family has “a month”. You know: A month that’s just jam-packed with events.
November is that month for our family. We celebrated my birthday, my husband’s birthday, our anniversary, and my future son-in-law’s birthday. I also had parent-teacher conferences. So, it’s been a couple of weeks since I wrote a column.
In those weeks I have seen a dramatic increase in the number of Dark-Eyed Juncos in our back yard.
These little birds are a harbinger of winter in our immediate area, but they’re common year-round in Northern New Mexico. They spend their winter here hopping along on the ground, scratching at the surface of the ground to find seeds. They’re particularly careful to forage underneath seed feeders to find bits of seed to eat.
The Dark-Eyed Juncos in our area come in a variety of colors. They can be gray with a solid black head, gray with rust-colored sides, or even black and white. Sometimes they’ll even look a bit like a bandit, with a black mask over their eyes. There are several sub-variants of Juncos, because of the variety of coloration. They’re easy to pick out, though, because they’re all about the same size, and their shape is quite different from other birds.
Their call is also quite distinctive. They will sometimes sit in separate trees and call back and forth to one another with a high pitched trill. Sometimes their sound is what I would imagine a laser light might sound like. And their alarm sounds are very rapid and high pitched beeping sounds.
They’ll be in our Rio Rancho neighborhoods and back yards throughout the winter, and will return to their northern habitats for mating season. They’re usually all gone by about the middle to end of March.