A couple of days ago we were watching the backyard and noticed two Dark eyed Junco birds feeding along the ground. I was reminded of my mother’s adage when I was a child that the number of Juncos – known as snowbirds -- would predict the number of inches of snow that would arrive shortly. Sure enough, although the ground was bare on Sunday, we now have about two inches of snow – a real forecast?
The Junco is named snowbird for several reasons. First, it is a resident of the continental states in the winter but travels north to Canada in the summer to nesting sites. This migration is the same as many people from the northern states heading south to Florida in the winter as well – some would say the same behavior warrants the same name. Secondly, the name is reference to its color – very dark back feathers with a white breast. This color scheme replicates a typical winter scene with dark clouds and snow on the ground.
Juncos are ground feeders and typically will be seen around feeders or near woodlands picking up seeds from the previous summer’s blooms. Perhaps their feeding habits are more exaggerated with the onset of snow because the array of seeds which they need for food will be covered by the snow. But are they predicting?
Frankly, your guess is as good as mine – it is not more likely to be scientifically proven than the groundhog predicting the onset of spring. But it is fun to think about as we work our way toward the warmer weather.