Red Deer River Naturalists

The Red Deer river Naturalists are a group dedicated to learning about and preserving natural history. They have regular programs with speakers and many field trips.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Junco Visitors

        The other morning as I was delivering papers at 6:30 AM I heard a bird call that was different. Our song birds are just startingr to return to the area so a different call causes me to stop and listen. We haven't heard these calls since last spring. One has to listen very carefully as many of the calls are similar.

        This call was a trill with just a touch of music. I looked in the direction of the call but could only see a crow and the sound certainly wasn't crow. I moved in the direction of the singer. I still couldn't find a bird. I moved nearer again and still no luck, but the singer continued without alarm. I knew I was close to the bird so I just searched the whole tree. Finally, on the tip of a top branch I spied the small suspect...a junco.

      Juncos are very common in this area in the spring. Juncos are interesting in that there is some variation in coloring. Most birds here have dark gray backs , creamy underparts and when they fly the two or three outer tail feathers which are white, flash. Some birds are much browner. At one time they were considered two separate species and called slate colored junco and Oregon junco. The young of the year present another challenge as they are heavily streaked.

      No matter what, when you hear the first junco of the year it is most pleasant.

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