• Juncos Flock in Large Numbers with Late Winter Storm

    Dark-eyed Junco. / © K.P. McFarland

    Many of us in Vermont experienced incredible numbers of Dark-eyed Juncos during this winter. But this past weekend was epic. With snow, ice, sleet, and rain blanketing the region for 3 days, bird watchers reported amazing numbers of juncos at their bird feeders and along highways.

    Many observers had dutifully stopped feeding birds early in April as Black Bear became active but put out feeders during the day or placed some feed on the ground during this intense spring storm.

    Juncos flock around a bird feeder placed outside during the storm.

    Observations reported to Vermont eBird were often flocks of 50 to 75 birds. One checklist in Weathersfield had 150 juncos reported. How these birds fared during this weather is anyone’s guess, but hopefully they were healthy and encounter enough resources to make it through the tough conditions.

    Reports to Vermont eBird from January through early April show a steady decline as birds dispersed. But during the storm, bird watchers reported counts about three times higher as the storm raged (see chart below). With the onset of spring in the coming weeks (hopefully), these birds will be quickly dispersing to their breeding territories and hatching the next generation.

    Add your sightings of juncos and all the birds to Vermont eBird and help us track their populations.

    Weekly abundance from Vermont eBIrd checklists. “Abundance” is the average number of birds reported on all Vermont eBird checklists within a specified date range. The checklists used in this calculation include those that didn’t report the species, providing a measure of relative abundance or how commonly the bird is reported compared to all other species.


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