Interesting Birding Day…


To be real I have to admit it was two days. The birds have flocked quite graciously to my home. If I wander away from the feeder area I don’t hear a sound so I always end up coming back. I thought I’d take a moment to describe (along with photos) two interesting things that have happened.

Yesterday while taking shots of the Juncos I was amazed really at the variations I found but I’ll save that for another post. I will however speak directly to a poor junco who seemed to have lost his tail.

First here is a dark eye’d junco (top view) complete with tail.

Dark Eye'd Junco

So you can imagine my shock when I ran into this guy….

Dark Eye'd Junco

I can’t figure out if the tail never grew or if it was eaten off by another animal.

Dark Eye'd Junco

As you can see there is one tail feather there which is white. I did (just in case) look it up and could not find any juncos who perhaps had different types of tails – almost all of them have the same basic tail with the exception of color.

Now I’ll move onto what I think might be a juvenile (or female) House Finch. (If someone knows better please correct me!) For the sake of the story I’ll just call it a her.

While I was sneaking up on birds today she simply stayed in the feeder my husband recently made. It has a little tin roof so maybe she was staying out of the melting snow. But the odd thing was she allowed me to walk right up to her. I was pretty amazed but not being put off by a brave little bird, I did that very thing and walked up on her.

Here was my first shot.

female or juvenile house finch

Then just about the time I got comfortable and ready to get serious about taking some real photos – she flew out!


(…and to my embarrassment – that’s the view she gave me.) She quickly dropped to the ground. While I walked up to her she laid perfectly still and at this point I wondered if she was hurt or sick. So here is my next shot….


I know she was just a colorless finch however I was so stunned I kept at it. There was also another part of me that found every angle of her fascinating.


And then the last shot, before she took off and flew away, completely fine!


In respect of her being so kind I’ll post a new link for ID’ing House Finches. (Just click the name if your interested.)


8 Responses to “Interesting Birding Day…”

  1. 1 montucky

    You had some interesting encounters! We had a similar episode a couple of summers ago with a goldfinch. It even let my son pick it up and it sat on his finger for about 5 minutes, then flew away perfectly fine. I wonder why they do that!

    The Junco was also strange. I guess all one can do is wonder!

  2. Yeah…. I agree. (I considered picking her up but in the end thought I might do more damage then good so I let her be.) It could have something to do with the sudden cold spell as you can see in the first shot she was puffing up her feathers pretty good I’m assuming to keep warm. I also kept wondering what the implications of a missing tail was for a bird. (My hubby theorizes that while she can fly she probably can’t do corners very well….) Me I’m just too ignorant on aviation to make a call. Thanks for visiting Montucky and adding your story!

  3. Funny I should happen across your post (in around-about way through Montana Outdoors’ post ‘six word memoir’). I was visiting a friend here yesterday and watching the Juncos at the feeder, and sure enough – one with only white feathers at the tail! I assumed a close encounter with a predator, but now you have me wondering. I live in Princeton, B.C. Will attempt to get a photo – but they are rather skittish and wouldn’t even stay still long enough for me to get a clear look at whether there was only one feather left there, or if the full tail was white. Shall do my best.

  4. Thanks for visiting Marilyn, (beautiful name by the way) I’d love to see yours! Maybe we have a little mutant in our midst’s! It’s tough keeping these little things still. I was lucky enough to catch one in my telephoto sights and then discovered the lack of tail…. I do have an outside kitty so I wondered if he was the culprit… bad kitty! humm… but maybe not if you have one too! (Okay I guess I won’t take away his catnip mouse as punishment now…)

  5. The Junco has outer tail feathers that are white and the inner ones are gray. Some reason this bird was spooked and its tail feathers were lost (with just the one outer feather retained)! They will grow back in a matter of time! Also, your finch might have had a Concussion from running into something! They will get like that . . . come to for a few seconds . . . still dizzy land to relax. Songbirds recover much quicker than some of our larger birds but they do recover. That is my guess with these two neat birds, thanks for sharing!

  6. Wow Monarch, I was actually eagerly awaiting for your response on these little creatures. And you totally came to the rescue on the subject. Thank You!! Overall the guys in my area are a pretty lively and healthy bunch but I bet as often as I pick on these poor creatures I’ll occasionally run into something interesting like this. Again thank you so much friend! 🙂 p.s. I can’t wait to tell Nick, he intends to write a blog as per your suggestion and took some pictures today when we did our bird count. He did a great job btw!

  7. Many years back we had an eagle come in for a chicken… the chicken literly dropped her tail feathers and the eagle swooped in – the eagle ended up flying away with nothing, and the chicken came out of hiding in about 10 minutes,and lived a very long and healthy life… so perhaps some such thing happened to your little junco as mon@rch says.

    While I was reading the post I kept thinking Children’s story… the tale of how the little Junco lost her tail.

    Great pictures!

  8. Thanks Truddle – that is an interesting story! I love this birding stuff because I seem to learn something new everyday! 🙂 p.s. thank you for visiting!

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