Return of the Junco

Just what is a Junco? It is a small bird about the size of a sparrow. He is black to dark grey from his beak to his tail. His belly is a pure white as is the underside of his tail feathers. He has arrived from the north because winter has set in there, and he likes warmer climates during the dark months. He will stick around until April or May when it is safe to return to the mountains of Canada to begin breeding. Why he chooses to spend his winters here where the snow and cold is almost as bad as it is in the mountains is a mystery. I use his arrival as notice that our cold season has come with him. I also use his departure or rather his disappearance as warning that Illinois will be getting hot again. He is my weather detector, and I love him.

This morning I spotted my very first Junco of the 2022 winter season, welcome birdie. Officially, winter is still two months away, but the days are much shorter and cooler. His early arrival could be a sign that we will have a very cold and long winter season.