Why won’t they just stay?! April 9, 2008Posted by ourfriendben in critters, homesteading, Uncategorized.
Tags: backyard bird watching, birds, Project FeederWatch, spring migration
It’s me, Richard Saunders of Poor Richard’s Almanac fame. I was just looking out the window of my Pennsylvania home and enjoying the sight of a little flock of juncos at my feeder. Dark-eyed juncos are also known as “snow birds” because they appear at feeders in the winter and have white bellies, which seem to disappear in snowy landscapes, leaving only their slate-colored backs and wings, and their beautiful grey-black eyes and beaks, visible against the snow.
Spring is bittersweet to me as a bird lover, because it brings the return of robins and grackles, but signals the departure of my adored juncos and snow geese, as they take wing for their far north breeding grounds, abandoning me until next autumn brings them down again in search of food and more temperate wintering grounds.
I confess, I’d trade a lifetime of robins just to have my juncos here year ’round. I’m not a fanatic collector like our friend Ben, but I did save up and buy one first-edition (the quarto, not the huge Elephant Folio, no room or funds for that) Audubon print of the darling little juncos, called “common snow bird” on the print, though they’re anything but “common” to me.
Like us, backyard birds are adaptable and peripatetic. We both enjoy stretching our boundaries. As a result, cardinals and mockingbirds, once residents of the South, now delight us Pennsylvanians year-round. But my beloved juncos have, so far, insisted on heading off to the boreal forests of the Far North to court and raise their young. Any day now, I expect to see the last junco depart for its breeding grounds, but so far, a small group of males has remained faithful. Oh please, oh please, I think each day as I fill my feeders, won’t you stay?
Not likely. If you enjoy feeding birds and want to know more about them, I recommend the Cornell Lab of Ornithology site on our blogroll. But you can also get a lot of great information on backyard feeder birds from a book, Birds at Your Feeder by Erica H. Dunn and Diane L. Tessaglia-Hymes. It’s a summary of Project FeederWatch findings by species, and I’ve found it invaluable as I try to entice more birds to my backyard. Yes, ruby-throated hummingbirds, purple martins, bluebirds, and goldfinches are delightful. But I have just one plea.
Juncos, please: Won’t you stay this year?!