Today when I walked out to put seed in the feeders, two juncoes (Junco hyemalis) flew from the lilac bush.
This was my first sighting this season of these lovely studies of charcoal, black and white. Their arrival from northern climes means that winter is not far behind. Juncoes are one of the true snowbirds, birds from Canada that winter in Indiana.
In winter, they eat seed, preferably from the ground, although they do visit niger and safflower feeders. They also take advantage of bird baths. I keep one bird bath going all winter with a little heater in the water.
Juncoes have white bellies and their tails flash white when they fly. They are a tiny bird, weighing 1/2- to 1 ounce, about 5- to 6-inches long. There is considerable regional variation in their black, gray and charcoal coloring. They are beautiful.
Originally posted here Nov. 10, 2009.