When we think of bird migration, robins flying south and vees of Canada geese come to mind. However, there are many variations on the theme of migration. For example, American Goldfinches are short-distance migrants. Although we see goldfinches year-round here, the birds we see in summer aren’t the same individuals as the birds we see in winter. The summer breeders move a few hundred miles south. They are replaced by another flock of goldfinches that, to our undiscerning eyes look just the same, and arrive from a location farther north.
Dark-eyed Juncos (Junco hyemalis) are northern breeders, migrating to the Canadian Shield and Hudson Bay Lowlands for the nesting season. In winter, they migrate back to Southern Ontario and points south. I spotted my first junco of the winter on Monday, as it flew up from the lawn where it had been foraging and disappeared into a thicket. Juncos are easily identified in even a short glimpse by their distinctive tail feathers. The grey fan is flanked on each side by a stripe of white that leaves no doubt as to the identity of the fleeing bird.
These photos are a bit blurred because I just shot them through the porch screen, a record of the first winter foragers preparing for the long, cold season ahead.