Thursday in the Naturehood

 Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

The Snowbirds

The arrival of  Dark-eyed Juncos  (Junco hymealis)   is always a harbinger of winter.  The name “hyemalis” means  “wintry.”  These members of the sparrow family migrate from northern coniferous forests to escape even harsher winter climes.  Their common name comes from a Latin word, meaning “rush” –  the plant found in marshy areas – although they actually prefer woodlands, fields (and gardens)  in order to forage for seeds.  They roost at night in covered tree branches, or hollow trees. 

My grandmother referred to them as the “snowbirds” since they appear shortly before cold temperatures set in and disappear quickly as warmer weather returns.