Monday, April 28, 2008

More back yard visitors

I was privileged to watch a junco family visit my back yard a couple Fridays ago. It was the cutest thing to watch. I first noticed some movement on the ground near my cannas, which were only about 12 inches tall. I was in the midst of watering them, so it was something dark moving on dark colored ground. I was back in the house, looking out my bedroom window when I first noticed something moving among the cannas. While I watched, or should I say "stared" I finally recognized an adult junco attempting to feed another bird. I then realized that it was a little fledgling junco. I then quickly grabbed my camera and slowly and quietly walked outside. I have found that these little birds are not afraid of humans. I can actually get as close as 2-1/2 to 3 feet away from them before they fly off. And if they do fly off, they come back almost right away. I leaned against the house and got down low to watch what was going on, and focused my camera on the action. I kept clicking away and below are the best results I came up with.
These juncos are the Oregon race of the dark-eyed juncos. They have been hanging around my back yard since the fall, and here it is April and they are still around. I do believe these birds don't migrate and stick around all year long. Although, I don't remember seeing them during the summer. Maybe they take off into the foothills around here where it's a little cooler during the summer. And then return in the fall when the temperatures drop.

Here's baby junco by itself (trying to "hide") while mom and dad wander a few feet away eating more seed off the concrete patio. Baby junco was able to find his/her own seed right there on the ground where it is standing. That black vertical "stick" behind the bird is the pole where the feeder is hung from.
This is the first time I've noticed baby juncos in my yard. I wonder if that's because I'm more observant this year? Or could it be it's the first time adult juncos could be nesting nearby? What have you been observing more closely this year?


Aunt "B's" Backyard said...

That's a different variety from the one's that visit here in PA. They are very pretty!
I envy you being able to grow plants outside that I can only grow as houseplants!

mon@rch said...

I have yet to see my first official Oregon Junco! Great photos and they are always fun to watch! The slate-colored birds nest around where i live!

Mary C said...

Aunt B - isn't that cool how different juncos can look in other parts of the country? I remember last fall when I was in New Mexico and noticed there that the juncos were grayer with a rusty patch on their backs. You have to grow cannas as houseplants? Of course they are more of a tropical plant. They die back in the winter around here, but reimmerge in the spring. And we do get chilly temps in the winter - around mid-30s at night - and some nights we get down to freezing.

Hey Monarch - come on out to California! And I'll promise you an Oregon junco. ;o) And someday I'll have to come out to New York and you can show me the slate-colored juncos.

Mel said...

Those are cute babies!

Mary C said...

Hi Mel - yes, they sure are cute. I love watching the fledglings. I usually see fledglings of house finches in late July and August. But this is the first time I got to see a junco.

Anonymous said...

Aww, love the photo of the begging young 'un! I'm always fascinated that Dark-eyed Junco subspecies look so very, very different from one another. I've also only ever seen the "Oregon" race, which is pretty common here in SF year-round.

Larry said...

Nice photos Mary C! It was a goood thing that you were paying attention. I've never seen the Oregon variety of Junco and have never been to Oregon!

Island Rambles Blog said...

We have the same juncos here and I have been noticing so many near the house and lots of birds are nesting in my back yard that I never noticed before...either I have changed or my yard has!!!

Mary said...

Hi Mary,

Our dark-eyed juncos left about two weeks ago and I feel sort of sad that I overlooked them this spring. Your photos are very good showing a Junco I haven't seen. I always enjoy photographing fledglings and juveniles because they are so "wet behind the ears".


RuthieJ said...

Oh Mary, that baby is so cute! I've NEVER seen a baby junco. I'm glad you were able to capture those pictures to share with us.

Kathiesbirds said...

I've been observing more insects since Doug Tauron visits my Blog. It's a whole new world out there! Those baby juncos look so much like female house finches! Good thing you caught the parents in the act of feeding them or it would be hard to tell. Congrats on having a backyard habitat that attracts the birds!

Mary C said...

Hi Adam - I'm not sure, but I don't think the juncos stay here in the south bay area during the summer months; maybe they move closer to the coast to stay cooler? I've only seen one other subspecies and that was the gray-headed race in New Mexico.

Hi Larry - the Oregon race apparently is the subspecies that inhabits the entire west coast. And I haven't seen much of Oregon either, and I live closer. ;o)

Hi Ocean -- I guess these little birds inhabit a wide range, don't they? They are really "tame" compared to other sparrows that visit. And they are so much fun to watch.

Thanks, Mary. I didn't realize that the juncos are seasonal there in North Carolina. I guess these birds do prefer cooler temps. ;o) The funny thing about the eastern juncos is that I think of black phoebes when I see a picture of them. They are probably smaller, but their coloring is very similar. And there is something to be said about watching and photographing fledglings. I like your description of them being "wet behind the ears." They definitely are curious little critters.

Hi Ruthie - I really feel quite fortunate that I was able to capture this little one's "outing" for the day. It was so exciting to experience it - and they were only a few feet away from me. I'm glad you enjoyed the photos.

Hi Kathie - I have certainly been enjoying reading your posts. It's great you can depend on Doug to help you out with identifying your new found insects. I'm glad that I was able to capture the action of the day, so called, because I would also find it difficult to identify most LBJs.


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