December Tulare Tip:
Weatherbird: There are many different birds that can be seen in Tulare SD. Many are seasonal. One small bird that can be found in Tulare during the winter is the dark eyed junco. It is about the size of a sparrow. The male is gray to dark gray on the top half and white on the bottom. Females have more brown coloring and can be mistaken for a sparrow at a distance. It has been said that when the dark eyed juncos show up in quantities in the fall that winter is about to hit and stay. It is also known to be somewhat like a groundhog and predict spring when they leave Tulare. The dark eyed junco breeds in Canada, but migrates south to Tulare when winter approaches. The opposite happens in the spring.
Before winter hits, a few early dark eyed juncos will hang out with sparrows and other small birds. They benefit from the other birds’ sentries that watch for danger. Although the dark eyed junco can be found at bird feeders around Tulare, they prefer to eat from the ground like bluejays, so will dive to the ground in groups after sparrows and other birds knock bird feed from the feeder to the ground.
There are many different bird varieties that can be seen at bird feeders during December in Tulare and this part of South Dakota. There is probably a greater variety if you live on the edge of town, especially to the west. In the middle of town, it is common to see bluejays, house finches, common redpolls, house sparrows, white breasted nuthatches, pine siskins, American goldfinches, downy woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers, red shafted northern flickers, black and white warblers, and many other varieties near a bird feeder. Sometimes the grackle that looks like a blackbird will invade Tulare in quantities as early as December.
Update: Now into February, only a few junkos have been seen at the bird feeder. The smaller quantity this year could be for different reasons. North of us may have had a more mild winter overall than normal. We have had less snowfall, so the junkos are able to feed in fields, but are here. They may have just missed the Tulare SD bird feeders this winter, but are in the area. Or overall, we are having a more mild winter for snowfall and temperature. Watch the quantity of dark eyed junkos every winter to see if they are really weatherbirds!
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