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Where Do (Snow) Birds Go in Winter?


Junco Images from Free Stock Photos


SNOWBIRD (n)

NOUN

1.  a widely distributed (Junco hyemalis) commonly seen in the winter

2.  US, Slang, a person addicted to the use of cocaine or heroin

3.  US, Slang, a northern tourist who vacations in the South during the winter

Collins English Dictionary. Copyright © HarperCollins Publishers


Juncos are medium size sparrows that typically reside in woody areas, foraging along the ground as they sing their sweet trilling song. These birds can be found across North America, and range in colors from slate grey to brown depending on where they hail from. They are the original snowbirds because they go South in the winter and retreat North in the Spring.


However, the 'snowbirds' that most people here refer to when they talk about 'snowbird season,' are people from the North who head South, or to other warmer areas internationally to avoid the North's cold and snowy winter.


Cape Coral, Florida is not the only destination for these adventurous creatures. Sedona, AZ, Las Vegas, NV and San Antonio, TX are just a few of the other sunny locations that welcome snowbirds each year. While many locals often equate snowbirds with high stress, increased impatience, hustle and bustle, increased traffic on the roads, and long lines in stores and at restaurants (move over early-birds, the snow birds are here), many businesses and cities, rely on the increased income of these migratory creatures to sustain them during quieter times. Also, visitors (and locals) who are stressed, usually chill out and (re)settle into 'island time.' Truthfully, there are stressed out and impatient locals, so tourists do not have the monopoly on being the only disagreeable ones around town.

While snowbirds may enjoy feeling like tourists of sorts, frequenting their favourite locales, and exploring new places, many of these snowbirds actually have their own homes, activities and circles of friends and happily immerse their dualistic selves in their warm 'tropical life.'


Since it is the start of the snowbird season, which is typically October to April, it's unclear just how much the pandemic fear will affect travel. So far, I've had numerous snowbird sightings, and it always warms my heart to see their house shutters disappear and homes come to life as they settle into their sunshine-filled winter neighbourhood.


DISCLAIMER: Some deem 'snowbird' to be a politically incorrect term, but how can being called the same thing as this cute little bird be bad? Some sources state that migrant workers in the 1930s were called 'snowbirds,' which is possibly why some believe it is a politically incorrect term. In my research about the migrant farmers who were impacted by World War I, the 1929 stock market crash or over farming of the Great Plains and the seven year drought that started in 1931 that caused the Mid-West's Dust Bowl, I found several substantiated sources, (including the Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck) stating that the migrant farmers who were the American Southwest were called "okies," but none that confirmed they were called 'snowbirds.'


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