Friday, January 5, 2018


Original Oil on Panel, 4 x 4 inches

Juncos used to be known as Snowbirds, something I never knew until today. In the 1936 book, Birds of America, the author writes the following:

The scientists have taken hold of our friend the Common Snowbird and done so many things to him that ordinary bird observers and the scientists themselves are quite distracted. First they are disputing over the various races of Snowbirds, not sure just how many different species and varieties to list. They have agreed upon the scientific name “Junco” for the whole group or genus and imposed that Latin name upon the English-speaking world as the common name in place of Snowbird. Maybe the children of the newer generation will look out of the windows on a Christmas morning and say “Oh, see the Juncos !” but the charm of the word “Snowbird” seems to be more worth while in childhood and in poetry at least. Bird students are taking very kindly to the new name but no one seems to know how it started and what it means. Coues says that it is derived from the Latin juncus meaning a seed. It was after 1830 that the word “Junco” was first brought into scientific use.

"Coues" presumably refers to Elliott Coues, an American ornithologist, 1842-1899.

Pearson, T. Gilbert. Birds of America. Garden City Publishing Co. Inc., Garden City, New York, 1936. Print.

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