Monday, February 22, 2010

The Juncos, aka The Birds

I have always thought that Hitchcock cannot have been very familiar with Yellow-eyed Juncos, for surely they inspire more fear than crows do. Their psychotic yellow eyes gleam out at you, and despite the bird's overall small size, I always get a shiver.

So sometimes I try to ignore the eyes and focus on the rest of the bird in order to identify it (and save myself from shivering).  Typical of the Yellow-eyed Junco is of course the red back that spills over into the wing coverts and tertials, distinguishing this species from the Red-backed and Gray-headed subspecies of the Dark-eyed Junco. In addition, the Yellow-eyed has a high-pitched, thin call with a rich, varied song--while the Dark-eyeds seem to sound more robust  in their calls but not as complex in their songs.

Lastly, I go by how tired I am from the hike!  If I am really tired and have attained great heights, I suspect that I am in Yellow-eyed range, whereas if I am still fresh then I conclude that I am more likely to be in Dark-eyed range.

At the moment I'm living in Vancouver, and thus I am far out of Yellow-eyed Junco range and don't need to fear that they'll flock my house and go for my eyes....