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Nature in it's glory

Nature in it's glory

Aug 5, 2010

Black-eyed Junco: Back yard bird

Black eyed junco perched

I just finished moving and while moving isn't a lot of fun, it did bring new bird watching experiences, beginning in my own back yard on the very first day that I occupied my new abode.  My new neighborhood has a lot of  trees with fruit and berries, a lot of bushes with the same and almost every yard is filled with beautiful flowers.  The result is a notable difference in bird population.  Whereas my old neighborhood was populated mostly by house sparrows, song sparrows, chickadees, blue jays, magpies and crows.  This new one is occupied by many Cedar Waxwings as well as other birds that I have yet to identify.  Naturally I just love knowing that I will have some new discoveries to make in the near future.

Dark bird in the tree

This little bird, a Black-eyed Junco likes to occupy a tree in a neighboring yard right outside my kitchen window, where he sings his little heart out and defends his territory.  Black-eyed Junco's can be positively identified and distinguished from the Black Phoebe, a similar bird, by their pink bill.  As you can see this particular variety stands out with it's simple contrasting coloring of dark upper parts and light underparts.  Other varieties of course have slightly different coloring.

Black-eyed Juncos belong to the sparrow family of birds.  They are flocking forest birds that typically forage on the ground, but will occupy backyards in cities and towns, especially in winter.  In summer their diet consists mostly of insects and seed, and in winter seed and fruit.  They will follow food supply south in winter unless the food supply is stable in the region that they occupy.  So if  fruit and bird feeders are readily available some will stay.  They are apparently not very numerous in Alberta, which might explain why I have never seen this bird before.  Having discovered this, and since my new home happens to have bird feeders in the tree just outside my front door that someone has left behind, I will make an effort to keep the bird feeders filled to capacity.  Hopefully my new little neighbor will stick around this winter.

Black eyed junco on roof
More information about this bird can be found at these links:


Black-eyed Junco's song can be heard here:

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