A dark-eyed junco is perched on an evergreen branch during a spring snowstorm. A year-round resident in Colorado, they are also sometimes called snowbirds because of their sudden, histrionic appearance below winter bird feeders. When it gets really cold, we see them mixed in with other small, seed-eating birds such as chickadees and nuthatches.
Dark-eyed juncos are uncommon sparrows because they spend so much time on the ground. They nest on the forest floor and hop around the bases of trees and shrubs searching for fallen seeds. When flushed, their distinctive, bright-white tail feathers are flashed during takeoff. Juncos also have a unique call that is described by a Mrs. Lawrence in a note to famous ornithologist Arthur Cleveland Bent:
"The lovely tinkling chorus by the juncos in early spring, as if a myriad of woodland sprites were shaking little bells in an intensive competition."