Each autumn and winter millions of northerners across North America make the pilgrimage to points south, primarily Florida and Arizona, to escape the snow and cold. Similarly, flocks of birds migrate southward for the winter from their summer nesting grounds.
One species of bird that migrates is particularly hardy. It doesn’t fly south from the Arctic tundra to Florida, the Caribbean, or Latin America. Instead, the Dark-eyed Junco flies from its chilly summer nests to the not-so-balmy winters of Michigan, Ontario, and surrounding regions. Sure, some will travel further south, but it’s the brave ones that hang around here that impress me. Just this week, they arrived here in Mid-Michigan for there six month “retreat” from polar cold.
I find this little birds quite amazing. It’s not like they are blessed with loads of extra fluffy feathers, but they still manage to survive year after year with temperatures rarely rising above “warm” in their summer habitat and more often downright cold.
If you happen to notice small, gray birds on the ground below your feeder, or see their gray and white tail-feathers flitter away as you approach on a trail, smile and remember how the hard Dark-eyed Junco is one of our best gifts from nature each winter. Cheers!