When Will The First Junco Arrive?

Dark-eyed Junco (photo by Bobby Greene)
Dark-eyed Junco (photo by Bobby Greene)

Since mid-September summer has lingered in Pittsburgh with temperatures spiking 15-20 degrees above normal.  Does this mean fall arrivals will be delayed?

Here’s what normally happens outdoors in late October and early November.  Let’s watch to see if it’s on schedule.

  • Fall colors peak in mid-October, especially red and sugar maples.  The oaks turn red at the end of the month.
  • First frost in Pittsburgh around October 20.  First hard frost around Halloween. (Really?!?  Keep your eye on this one.)
  • Most trees will lose their leaves by November 8.
  • Most flowers have gone to seed though witch hazel, bottle gentian, hardy goldenrods and asters are blooming.
  • The warblers are gone but white-throated sparrows, dark-eyed juncos and American tree sparrows will arrive to stay through winter.
  • Broad-winged hawks are gone but red-tailed hawks, kestrels and sharp-shins are now on the move. Don’t miss seeing golden eagles at the Allegheny Front Hawk Watch from late October through November.
  • Fill your hummingbird feeder in October in case a rufous hummingbird shows up.
  • Big flocks of robins, grackles and starlings form at dusk and dawn. The Pittsburgh crow flock becomes noticeable in early November.
  • The first wave of migrant ducks and geese arrive with October cold fronts.
  • Chipmunks, squirrels, and groundhogs are storing food and putting on weight.
  • It’s hunting season. Wear blaze orange and be aware of Pennsylvania’s hunting seasons.  Remember: Though Sunday is generally safer, some game can be hunted on Sundays.
  • Be prepared to “fall back” on the first Sunday in November when we set our clocks to Standard Time.  After that, evening rush hour will be in the dark.

When will the first frost come? When will the first junco arrive?

Stay tuned.

For more information, see Chuck Tague’s Western Pennsylvania Phenological Perspective for October, first published in 2010.


(photo by Bobby Greene)

5 thoughts on “When Will The First Junco Arrive?

  1. Still seeing monarch butterflies every day in my flowerbeds. I have a lot of nectar sources for them, but shouldn’t they have migrated by now?

    1. Donna, I’ve been seeing monarchs, too, every one of which is heading south. The weather is so warm that they are able to survive and keep moving. This is such good news after several years of almost no monarchs at all.

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