Thursday, October 9, 2008

Out of the wild

The juncos are coming through. They're hoping around our backyard, cool as a cucumber. Check that, our garden cucumbers are gone already since it got too cold for them. The juncos are as cool as a...carrot...and nearly as earth-bound.

Juncos remind me of the wild woods, the deep real forests that surround Duluth and Lake Superior. They hang up there in the deep woods as long as they can, and only migrate a short ways south. Compared with the chickadee, juncos are a bit more shy and a bit more wild. Yet they come each year to our backyard and hang for a few weeks.

Juncos are ground feeders, often seen on the grass below feeders scooping up leftovers from hoggy squirrels.

I found the picture above from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. I searched a lot of images, but couldn't find one that showed the junco's most distinctive marking, the white outer tail feathers that flash when they flit into flight. I know this bird well enough to identify it by season, by association. Crisp northwest breezes? October or April? Smell of leaves starting to rot? Flash of white means junco.

As fall rolls along and we become increasing set at home, it warms my heart to have this little reminder of the deep woods come hang with us out of the wild.

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