On my walk on April 8, I again watched Dark-eyed Juncos in Eliza Howell Park, a common occurrence over the last 6 months. This is one of the last times this season; they will soon be leaving, heading north to breed, probably in the forests of Canada.
The juncos usually arrive in Detroit in early October and return north sometime in April. Nicknamed “snowbirds,” they are the most common of the birds that spend the winter, but not the summer, with us. For the bird watcher in this geographical region, winter means juncos.
After seeing at least a dozen juncos on April 8, I reviewed my records to see how much longer in April they might be around. During the last 10 years, the latest date I have seen juncos in the park has been April 17 (in three different years). In two other years, the latest date was April 16 and April 15.
Even keeping in mind that I do not visit the park every day and that I could miss them when I am there, the pattern from past records is still quite clear: I am not likely to see them after April 17.
The juncos have been our companions through the cold and snows of winter. It is now time for them to continue their annual life cycle.
I hope to see a few juncos in the park for another week or so and to wish them a safe journey. By October, I will be eager to see them and/or their offspring here again.
Photos by Margaret Weber