During my recent travels, I was able to spend a little more time and focus on the different junco subspecies of the West. Living in the Eastern US, not much time or thought is normally given into the variation of juncos since we only regularly get the one type, Slate-colored.
While Elise and I were on top of Sandia Crest, enjoying the Rosy-Finches, I couldn’t help but watch all the juncos hopping around as well. The bright rufous-colored mantle of the Gray-headed Junco popped in the morning sun. So much more color than the dark gray/black of my juncos back home. There were at least 6 of these subspecies visiting the feeders and it wasn’t long before the incredibly contrasted Oregon Junco subspecies popped out of the bushes as well! Another stunning variety – both male and female were present. I couldn’t help but stare at them both for a while (mostly in between visits from the finches).
A few days later, Elise and I found ourselves at Santa Rita Lodge in Madera Canyon. We were enjoying the feeders there when a third subspecies decided to show off, the subtle yet soothing Pink-sided Junco, as seen in the photo at the top of this post. A few of them were feeding on the seed under the feeders and eventually one popped up in a nearby bush for some great looks. Gray-headed Juncos were present here, as well, and while searching through them I came across a Yellow-eyed Junco! Elise thought they looked a bit scary and evil with that glowing yellow eye of theirs.
It was really great to be able to study 3 different subspecies of Dark-eyed Junco and get some nice of shots of each. That only leaves 2 more for me to see, White-winged and the rarer Red-backed. Hopefully someday soon I’l get a chance to see those as well. – Jacob
1/11/18 – Sandia Crest, NM
1/14/18 – Santa Rita Lodge, AZ