Friday, October 26, 2007

No Juncos?

The rain continues here at Roundtop, though overnight it was light enough that it didn't add much depth in the rain gauge. Almost hour by hour I can feel it getting colder. The rain started like one of those rare, soft summer rains that makes me feel as though I could enjoy getting soaked to the skin in it. But now it is verging on a cold rain, with a chilling wind from the east. I like it, though; we need the rain and the temperature is now closer to normal.
I am hoping that later this weekend when the rain finally stops I will finally see the first dark-eyed juncos of the season. Their arrival is much delayed this year, though juncos are not a species that arrive like clockwork on the same day each year, as swallows very nearly do. And it is this normal variability in their arrival that has kept me from saying until now that they are late.
Juncos ordinarily arrive in shifts. In past years, it has been common for me to find the first junco or two during the second week of October. But then I won't see large numbers of them for another week or two. Occasionally, I have missed seeing these early "scouts" entirely, only to have the first small flocks of juncos show up in mid-October. I typically see them daily from October until they leave in the spring, but it usually takes the first small snowstorm before they are as thick as a carpet in front of my bird feeders.
I have never seen the first juncos later than October 21 before. I really expected to find some when I took my walk down in the valley earlier this week, figuring that the abundance of natural food this year meant simply that they didn't need to scavenge at or near the cabin. But I didn't see any. I've also noticed that not many have thus far been reported on the PA Birds listserv I subscribe to. At first I thought that was because juncos are a common species and the PA Birds folks tend to be looking for rarer ones, but I don't think that's it either. The little darlin's simply aren't here yet. I expect they will arrive as soon as this rain stops late in the weekend. I will look hard for them then as I don't wan't October to end without sighting my first junco of the year.
Thanks to all who've asked about Baby Dog. She is fine, full of herself and doesn't seem to be bothered at all. I actually wish she was a little less full of herself, as I'm worried she might reinjure the tail with her antics.
My photo today was taken at my neighbor's farm. The mountain in the distance is the one on the far side of the valley that I walked over to earlier this week on my walk through the forest.


Chris said...

Dark-eyed Juncos have arrived in Chicago, I saw one Thurday at my house and one at my work, 40 minutes south. I'm sure they'll be by you soon! Hope you get to see them this weekend. :)

Anonymous said...

I saw my 1st Juncos of the season of the season on the Big Sprng on Saturday, so yours should show up soon!