The Dark-Eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) is a confusing bird. Most birders consider it a sparrow, but some think it’s a finch. No one knows what its name means in English, Latin, or any other language except Spanish, in which “junco” is a rush plant.


Many casual observers call it “The Snowbird,” based on its legendary sudden appearance with the first snow or – in some older yarns – causing that snow. Our theory is that the bird is not easy to see where there are no bird feeders and no snow-covered ground.


They’re small, neutrally-colored, and mostly feed on the ground in the absence of feeders. When the snow comes, their hopping and flitting become obvious. (Brooklin, Maine) Go Pats!