Dark-eyed juncos have been a favorite winter backyard bird of mine for years; their perky behavior and energetic movements make icy winter days a bit warmer. This spring has been surprising, however, as the juncos have remained in the backyard for much longer than typical, and in fact, I startled one that was foraging under the deck just yesterday.
Some areas are privileged to be home to juncos year-round, but my backyard is not one of them. While the gray-headed subspecies will stay in the area all year, I've never yet had one of them in my yard - my typical visitors are Oregon juncos, and once or twice a rare (for this area) slate-colored junco. But with their continual flitting around my yard even weeks after the snow has gone and the temperatures are rising, I am wondering just how long they may stay around.
Thus far, despite the first signs of spring appearing - I'm especially thrilled at the hint of flowers forming on my new lilac bush - other spring migrants have not yet arrived. I eagerly await the lazuli buntings and black-headed grosbeaks, and I know that in just a few weeks I need to put out feeders for the black-chinned and broad-tailed hummingbirds. For the time being, however, every day I see a dark-eyed junco is another day at the end of winter to enjoy.