I don’t care to have favorites, with the implication of exclusion and rank; so I never played the ‘my favorite X is …’ game well.  Still, watching a flock of juncos yesterday, I had to admit a certain fondness for them.  We have many birds here in the winter months, gathered in flocks, so it is easier to observe them closely.  The bird feeders attract the usual suspects: chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, cardinals, white throats, all the woodpeckers, finches, etc.  They all have a certain unique charm and habit.

Of all of them the juncos are the least flashy.  No striking colorations, no loud conversant songs, no gymnastic manuevers.  Just a group of little, ground-feeding birds.  Yet, I would challenge one to capture all the nuances of a junco’s colouration.  They are described as ‘slate coloured’, a laughably useless descriptor, unless you know slate very well indeed.  Then it is quite accurate.  Purple, green, brown, blue, black, grey…not iridescent like a starling, but a subtle constant shifting of colour.  The white flash of the belly, tail, and the light edges of the wing feathers make them remarkably eye-catching in motion.  Somehow, they also have a gentleness that other flocking birds seem to lack.  I have never seen a quarrel in a junco flock, unlike the finches or starlings.  A dull coloured bird well worth the second look.