My family and I live in a semi-rural area of NJ and we're lucky to live on one acre of land near a lake, woods, and a hiking trail . Every year in Autumn and Winter we are besieged by birds looking for food, so usually around Thanksgiving I put out the bird feeders. I place them outside around then as not to attract any rogue bear left wandering the area and then take them down early Spring. Our winged friends are attuned to this schedule and wait with bated beak for me to show up.
Our yard is a heavily traveled bird zone so we see our usual suspects of gold finches, cardinals, blue jays, black-capped chickadees, sparrows, tufted titmice, nut hatches, doves, and ever abundant sparrows. However for the past two years we've been visited by an interesting bird that we couldn't identify.
This mystery bird was about the size of a sparrow but had a short beak, a black upperbody, and whitish underbelly. We checked out our Peterson Guide but couldn't determine which one it was, a photo of it is below.
Luckily yesterday, my wife S came across another bird book she had. After paging through it, we finally figured out what bird it was. Its a Dark Eyed Junco! Finally the mystery has been solved and we deserve a Scooby snack!