|Dark-eyed Slate-colored Junco sitting on a log on top of Mt. LeConte, Great Smoky Mts. Nat. Park, Tennessee; 6-11-10. A reliable identifier of this Junco is its white stomach in a striking contrast to its slate gray breast and head.|
Last week I featured sparrows that I have photographed, so it seems fitting that I spend a few days highlighting a closely related species - the Juncoes. Juncoes, like sparrows are relatively small ground birds with short conical bills. Sparrows and Juncoes switch their diet according to season. In the summer, they mostly scratch the ground looking for insects and larvae, then in the winter when these are not available, they turn to mostly seeds.
In the last couple of years I have been able to photograph four different types of Juncoes, the one that I see the most and identified several years ago is a Junco that visits Northern Illinois each winter and is quite a regular at bird feeders all winter long (Below). The Dark-eyed Slate-colored Junco is a ground forager and quite often will spend its time scratching the ground underneath bird feeders looking for the spilled seed. Otherwise it spends its summer in the northern reaches of Canada and Northeast U.S. However, as I noticed this summer, they are also very common in the higher altitudes of the Appalaichians, as I saw and heard lots of them while hiking up Mt. LeConte in Great Smoky Mt. Nat. Park. (Above)
|A female Dark-eyed Slate-colored Junco waiting its turn at a bird feeder; Rockford, IL; 1-3-09. Females are less slate gray and have more brown on their head, back and flanks than their male counterparts, but retain the white belly.|