The first dark-eyed juncos of the season arrived on our Littleton, Colorado, farm this morning. These small songbirds breed across northern latitudes or in mountainous areas, descending to lower elevations or more southern climes during the winter months.
Today's visitors were of the slate-gray race and will soon be joined by members of the Oregon and gray-headed clans; while those of the white-winged race winter in Colorado as well, I have rarely observed them on our Littleton farm. Foraging on the ground, juncos feast on a wide variety of small seeds and often gather beneath feeders to search for fallen milo, thistle or sunflower kernels. Indeed, their arrival this morning prompted my first handouts of the season, attracting black-capped chickadees, collared doves, blue jays, house finches and a red-breasted nuthatch as well (not to mention the fox squirrels).
Small but hardy, juncos adapt well to Colorado's regular snowstorms, finding sustenance beneath evergreens or dense thickets. While backyard birders and nature lovers offer store-bought seed as well, these "snowbirds" would manage just fine without our generosity.