The Daily Bucket is a regular feature of the Backyard Science group.  It's a place to note the things you've seen in the natural world around you.  Whether it's weather, bobcats, fish, bugs, meteorites, climate, birds, flowers, or old rocks,  nothing is too big or too small, if it's part of the natural world, this is the place to talk about it.
So please let us know what's going on in your neighborhood and whereabouts that is.
I don't know how it is in other parts of the country but here in mid Missouri, this time of year dark eyed juncos seem to be everywhere you look. As far back as I can remember it's always been this way. Flock sizes at our feeders have varied over the years, sometimes we've had as many as a hundred stay with us all winter but most years as in this  one we normally have around half that number. I've always found it interesting to see how many plumage variations there are in a typical flock, with colors ranging from dark charcoal with snowy white breasts to pale gray with lighter gray breasts, some are brownish, some have buffy orange flanks and others are a mixture of all that. It's not unusual to see one with a stray white feather here or there on it's body. So plumage variations in the species appears to be a common characteristic, but yesterday we had one show up that really got our attention, not because of the color of it's feathers but from the actual feather structure.

It's primary wing and outer tail feathers had a very prominent curl to them. I tried to find some information on this but wasn't able to come up with much. I already knew of a breed of pigeons that have been bred specifically for the trait of curly feathers and I found a bit of information pertaining to a breed of Japanese quail that carry a gene for it and bits and pieces of information about other species but that's about all I could find, and nothing whatsoever pertaining to juncos.

In regards to the quail, the article I read stated that

Curly feathers result from abnormal early growth caused by transient joining of follicle walls of adjacent feathers around 10 days of age, but the expression of the trait is variable.
and that it is
determined by autosomal recessive mutations which are independent.
So not really a lot of help there, which just makes it more intriguing to me.

 It looks like the curled primaries would make flying very difficult and we were hoping to  be watching when it flew but unfortunately it disappeared when neither of us were paying attention. It hasn't visited us yet this morning but we're watching closely and hopefully will get to see it again.

7 degrees here this morning but a warm up is predicted for tomorrow. Feeders already very busy and a red shouldered hawk is working on what's left of the deer carcass, which is little more than hide and bone now.

I'll be in and out throughout the day. You're turn, tell us what's happening in your neighborhood. Got any juncos with pizzaz?

If you aren't already registered for the Great Backyard Bird Count, now would be a good time to do so. Starts day after tomorrow.

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Originally posted to Backyard Science on Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 06:30 AM PST.

Also republished by Birds and Birdwatching.

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