Ordinary, Extraordinary... Junco

The Ordinary Extraordinary Junco is a documentary film project designed to engage, entertain, and inspire student and adult audiences of all backgrounds. The feature-length film (88 min.) is comprised of eight shorter video modules (3 to 20 min.), or “chapters,” that highlight past and present biological research on one of the most common and abundant –yet amazing and diverse–groups of songbirds in North America, the Juncos.

Each video chapter explores key themes in animal behavior, ecology, or evolution, and conveys the process of scientific research with high school and college science standards in mind. Related educational resources are available to facilitate classroom or self-directed (e.g., homework) use.

Pioneers in science: William Rowan and the junco

How do animals know when it is time to migrate or breed each year? Through a groundbreaking experiment with the junco, William Rowan discovered "photoperiodism" for the first time in animals-but his success didn't come easily!

Say Hello To The Junco

Juncos! Readily observed in backyards, city parks, and forests alike, these little gray birds--sometimes called "Snowbirds"--can be easily overlooked. But for scientists who study animal behavior, ecology, and evolutionary biology, the Junco is a rockstar.

Appalachian Spring: Long-Term Studies At Mountain Lake

This segment introduces viewers to the junco, the researchers, and the core methods they use to study birds. Set in field, lab, and aviary locations, one landmark study is highlighted in detail: a long-term field experiment investigating the complex effects of the hormone testosterone on behavior, physiology, and evolutionary fitness.

Diversification I: The Dark-Eyed Juncos

Exploring the definition of 'species,' hybridization, and the role of new DNA technology in studying evolution, this segment features footage from junco habitats across the continent. From Dr. Alden Miller in the 1920s, to Dr. Borja Mila, a modern day explorer and ornithologist, join researchers on their quest to understand the riddle of the Junco's evolutionary history.

Diversification II: South Of The Border

Building upon findings revealed in "Diversification I: the Dark-eyed Juncos," this segment will allow the viewer to join researchers from around the world as they travel to remote high elevation habitats to study unique Junco groups.

The Mysterious Juncos Of Guadalupe Island

Continuing the journey begun in "Diversification I" and "Diversification II," this segment opens with researchers hitching a ride with the Mexican Navy to visit a breathtakingly beautiful but critically endangered island habitat.

What We Can Learn From The Junco

Recapping themes from the prior modules and previewing the junco research of the future, this closing segment reinforces the broad range of important scientific findings involving the Junco.