Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Friday to amp up your nature vocabulary!
Word of the week is Passerine [PAS-er-in, -uh-rahyn, -uh-reen] (adjective): Relating to or denoting birds of a large order (Passeriformes) distinguished by feet that are adapted for perching, including all songbirds.
This time of year, we could not be more excited to see a familiar passerine back on the snowy grounds of High Park! It has a pink beak, dark grayish feathers, and a white belly. It’s a… Dark Eyed- Junco!
Dark-eyed Juncos are migratory and will fly south for the winter when it gets too cold in their summer breeding grounds. For the many migratory birds of High Park, southern Ontario is usually a stopover site or that summer breeding ground, which gets too cold, leading them to fly to the United States (southern) or Mexico. However, in the case of Dark-eyed Juncos, the area of High Park and southern Ontario is actually part of their wintering grounds! This means that Dark-eyed Juncos leave Northern Canada and Alaska to come here for their warm winter vacation!
Keep an eye out for Dark-eyed Juncos on your next winter visit to High Park!
FUN FACT: The Dark-eyed Junco is one of the most common forest birds in North America with an estimated population of about 630 million individuals.