Bird-feeder royalty

January 23, 2020

Pushing and shoving, dive-bombing, squabbling, jockeying and butting-in, the bird-feeder etiquette of our variety of finches is the birdy equivalent of an episode of ‘Survivor’.  There’s also gender bias going on.  Early morning, when the very first flock gingerly descends from the upper branches, nervously eyeing the freshly-filled feeders, the males timid over whether it’s safe to go for it or not, hold back.  Waking up as finches, the males suddenly decide they’d rather be chicken. So, it’s up to their female partners to make the first attempt.  Only then, do the males feel emboldened.

And then, there’s the the Dark-eyed Junco: royalty of bird-feeder land.   Shy, yet able to hold their own, Juncos forego the unseemly behaviour going on above, and instead head for the ground underneath. Gathering in polite groups, they snatch up the morsels the more greedy finch riff-raff above them can’t quite manage to gorge fast enough.

“Dark-Eyed Junco”
watercolour, 3″ x 5″, Arches Hot Press #140 Paper
by Lance Weisser

… a little Junco

May 3, 2016

My observations are that birds which winter over are more agreeable in disposition than birds which come here to breed.  Case in point, Juncos, which winter over here and then head further North to breed.  They are such a delightfully polite and agreeable little bird, not taken to fighting over the feeders, but rather preferring to peacefully forage below them.

dark-eyed junco may 2016

‘Dark-eyed Junco’

 3″ x 5″, watercolour on Saunders Hot Press 140# Paper

On the other hand, birds which migrate here to breed, like the Common Grackle, dive-bomb me when I’m giving our dog Elmo his early morning walk, as though I am suddenly in my dotage going to start climbing trees to pull down their nests.

But blest be the birds which come here to winter over, like the so-lovely Common Redpoll and the Dark-eyed Junco.  Although extremely territorial when nesting, we get to see Juncos when sex is the furthest thing from their bird-brained minds and finding seeds on the snow is all they care about.

Some birdie facts:

  • Juncos are the “snowbirds” of the middle latitudes. Over most of the eastern United States, they appear as winter sets in and then retreat northward each spring. Some juncos in the Appalachian Mountains remain there all year round, breeding at the higher elevations. These residents have shorter wings than the migrants that join them each winter. Longer wings are better suited to flying long distances, a pattern commonly noted among other studies of migratory vs. resident species.

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/dark-eyed_junco/lifehistory

 

 

 

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