Monday, January 23, 2012

Juncos Enjoying a Meal

The Juncos have arrived – on masse. They are easily spotted against the thin coating of snow we had this weekend. They have dark upper feathers and white bellies and bustle about in search of seed. Sparrow-sized and sparrow related, these birds are often found in backyards nibbling under feeders. They prefer ground feeding but will hop up to a feeder if the pickings below are slim. Dark-eyed Junco is an overall designation for several forms that had been thought to be different species. The formerly called Slate-colored Junco is the one most seen in the east but Juncos range widely over Canada and all of North America. They are often called snowbirds down south because they appear in winter.

They scurry under the bare branches of the butterfly bush looking for a meal. They avoided the whole-grain cereal we had thrown out, leaving the crunchy nuggets for the squirrels, and discovered s stash of sunflower seeds that had been shaken free when the feeders were refilled. They are fairly common yet I find them appealing, with their lively movements and sweet chipping. I’m always glad when they show up.

Common doesn’t negate their beauty or value. Doesn’t everything/everyone have value and individuality? People are common but each one of the billions of us on earth is different, contributing in his or her own way to the energy of the planet. I read that Juncos eat ragweed seeds and as I am allergic to ragweed I am doubly happy to see them.

Their cousins, the sparrows, have come by, as have the finches. A lot of fluttering going on. Inside my warm kitchen I put on the teapot. The feeders will be refilled when we have all finished enjoying our afternoon snack.

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