Gray on White

More bird photos because that is the only thing I can photograph from my kitchen window because I'm at home, sick with a cold.

Outside the kitchen window in the barren branches of the sassafras tree, I saw a dark, Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis), a small, greyish American sparrow known for its striking appearance and adaptability. As the chill of the house filled my bones, I felt a bit of pity for the bird. But as I read up on the Dark-eyed Junco, I realised that I needn't have worried.

Commonly referred to as "snowbirds," Dark-eyed Junco are perhaps best known for their sudden arrival in backyards across North America, foreshadowing the onset of winter. With a slate-grey head and back contrasting against a white belly, the males are slightly more colourful than the females.

Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) · March 21, 2018 · Canon EOS 5D Mark III · EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM

Juncos are ground feeders, often spotted hopping on the earth or snow, foraging for seeds, insects, and berries. They have a short, stout beak adapted to their granivorous diet but will also eat insects during the breeding season.

Their habitat is versatile, ranging from forests to suburban areas. During the breeding season, they prefer coniferous or mixed forests in northern and mountainous regions, migrating to lower elevations and more southerly latitudes in winter.

Social birds, Juncos, often feed in flocks and are a common sight at feeders1.

Dark-eyed Juncos have several regional variations or subspecies, differing mainly in colour and distribution. Despite habitat changes and climate challenges, they remain one of North America's most abundant forest birds, with a conservation status of "Least Concern."

  1. I have a small suet feeder hanging from a tree branch. 

Dark-eyed Junco in the Snow

Recently I have felt that all my work is effluent. Shit! Crap!

I snapped these pictures during a snowstorm in early February. The birds were flocking to the bird feeder in my backyard. I used a Canon EOS 5D Mark III camera and an EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM super zoom lens to take the shots. I took the photos from inside my house, through the kitchen window and the sliding door in the living room.

Dark-eyed Junco

When I photographed this bird, I had no idea what it was. After a few hours of searching online and looking at many bird photographs, I identified this bird as the Dark-eyed Junco.

The Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) is a small-sized songbird that belongs to the sparrow family, Passerellidae. It is primarily found in North America and is known for its distinctive plumage variations across different geographic regions.

Dark-eyed Juncos are known for their dark-coloured eyes, surrounded by contrasting white or grey eyerings. Their plumage exhibits considerable variation, but the most common forms include a slate-coloured body with a white belly. Some populations may have a reddish-brown back or a mix of brown and grey tones.

These juncos are migratory birds found in many habitats, including forests, woodlands, and even suburban areas. During the breeding season, they inhabit the northern parts of North America, while in winter, they migrate to the southern regions, including parts of the United States and Mexico.

Dark-eyed Juncos are primarily ground foragers and feed on a diverse diet, including seeds, insects, and occasionally fruits and berries. They can often be seen hopping on the ground, using a characteristic "double-scratch" behaviour to uncover food beneath the leaf litter.

Birds in Flight

The series of photographs depicts backyard birdlife around the bird feeder suspended from the branch of a sassafras tree.

  1. A black-capped chickadee and dark-eyed Junco are featured in the first photograph. On the feeder clings a Black-capped Chickadee, identifiable by its distinct black head and throat, white cheeks, soft grey wings and back. A Dark-eyed Junco is seen departing the feeder. This bird's slate grey plumage and white outer tail feathers are characteristic of its species, making it easily recognisable.
  2. The second image portrays a Dark-eyed Junco flying towards the feeder, identifiable by its slate-grey plumage and white belly. The motion of its wings is frozen by the camera, giving us a glimpse into the bird's agile flight.

  3. The third image features a Black-capped Chickadee, recognisable by its black "cap" and bib, white cheeks, and light grey body feathers, perched deftly on the side of the tree. The second bird, captured in mid-flight with wings outstretched as it approaches, is another Black-capped Chickadee. Its dynamic pose, with wings and tail feathers spread, showcases the agility and speed with which these small birds navigate their environment.

  4. The fourth image captures a solitary Downy Woodpecker. Recognisable by its white belly, black and white spotted wings, and the distinctive red patch on its head (if it's a male), it's seen in a dynamic, wings-extended posture approaching the feeder.

  5. Captured in mid-motion is a Dark-eyed Junco, identifiable by its slate-grey feathers on the top parts of its body and white belly. Its wings are fully extended, showcasing the white outer feathers characteristic of the species, as it lands on the green wire suet feeder.

Each photograph showcases these birds' beauty and agility against the soft-focus backdrop of my backyard.

Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)
Dark-eyed Junco · Sunday 5 February 2017 · Nikon D5100 at 1/1000 sec · AF-S Nikkor 85 mm f/1.8G at f/1.8
Blackpoll warbler (Setophaga striata)
Black-capped Chickadee · Sunday 5 February 2017 · Nikon D5100 at 1800 sec · AF-S Nikkor 85 mm f/1.8G at f/4.0
Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens)
Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens) · Sunday 5 February 2017 · Nikon D5100 at 1/1000 sec · AF-S Nikkor 85 mm f/1.8G at f/5.6
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) · Sunday 5 February 2017 · Nikon D5100 at 1/1000 sec · AF-S Nikkor 85 mm f/1.8G at f/5.6