Dark-eyed Junco – Song | Facts | Diet | Nest | Range | Habitat

Dark-eyed Junco

The dark-eyed junco, scientific name Junco hyemalis is a species of junco, a gaggle of small, grayish New World sparrows. This bird is widespread throughout a lot of temperate North America and in summer ranges far into the Arctic. It is a really variable species, very like the associated fox sparrow (Passerella iliaca), and its systematics are nonetheless not fully untangled. In this article, I am going to talk about Dark-eyed Junco call, song, diet, male vs female, nest, range, fun facts, habitat, images, etc.

Dark-eyed Junco profile

The Dark-eyed Junco is often present in Washington in two kinds, Oregon and the Slate-colored. It is unclear whether or not different races of Dark-eyed Junco happen within the state.

In Washington, the Oregon type is by far the more widespread. All kinds in Washington have distinctive white outer tail feathers, white bellies, and pink payments.

Oregon Juncos have darkish hoods, that are daring black in males and grey in females and juveniles. They have rufous sides, brown backs, and grey wings.

Slate-colored Juncos could have a brownish tinge on their backs, however, for probably the most half, are darkish grey throughout aside from the white stomach.

In winter over a lot of the continent, flocks of Juncos might be discovered around woodland edges and suburban yards, feeding on the bottom, making ticking calls as they fly up into the bushes.

East of the plains the Juncos are all grey and white, however within the West, they arrive in varied coloration patterns, with reddish-brown on the back or sides or each; a few of these had been as soon as thought to be totally different species. The forms have separate ranges in summer, however, in winter, a number of sorts could happen in the identical flock in elements of the West.

Dark-eyed Junco Description

Adults usually have grey heads, necks, and breasts, grey or brown backs and wings, and a white stomach, however present a complicated quantity of variation in plumage particulars. The white outer tail feathers flash distinctively in flight and whereas hopping on the bottom. The bill is often pale pinkish.

Males are inclined to have darker, more conspicuous markings than females. The dark-eyed junco is 13 to 17.5 cm (5.1 to six.9 in) long and has a wingspan of 18 to 25 cm (7.1 to 9.8 in). Body mass can fluctuate from 18 to 30 g (0.63 to 1.06 oz).

Among commonplace measurements, the wing chord is 6.6 to 9.3 cm (2.6 to 3.7 in), the tail is 6.1 to 7.3 cm (2.4 to 2.9 in), the bill is 0.9 to 1.3 cm (0.35 to 0.51 in), and the tarsus is 1.9 to 2.3 cm (0.75 to 0.91 in).

Juveniles usually have pale streaks and should even be mistaken for vesper sparrows (Pooecetes gramineus) till they purchase grownup plumage at 2 to three months, however, junco fledglings’ heads are usually fairly uniform in coloration already, and initially, their payments nonetheless have conspicuous yellowish edges to the gape, stays off the fleshy wattles that information the dad and mom after they feed the nestlings.

The track is a trill just like the chipping sparrow’s (Spizella passerina), besides that the red-backed dark-eyed junco’s (see under) track is more complicated, just like that of the yellow-eyed junco (Junco phaeonotus).

The name additionally resembles that of the black-throated blue warbler, which is a member of the New World warbler household.

Calls embrace tick sounds and really high-pitched tinkling chips. It is thought amongst bird language practitioners as a wonderful bird to check for studying “bird language.”

Dark-eyed Junco Ecology

Their breeding habitat is coniferous or combined forest areas all through North America. In any other case optimum situations additionally they make the most of one other habitat, however on the southern margin of its range, it may possibly solely persist in its favorite habitat.

Northern birds migrate additional south, arriving in their winter quarters between mid-September and November and leaving to breed from mid-March onwards, with nearly all of them passed by the tip of April or so.

Many populations are everlasting residents or altitudinal migrants, whereas in chilly years they might select to remain of their winter range and breed there.

For instance, within the Sierra Nevada of eastern California, J. hymealis populations will migrate to winter ranges 5,000–7,000 toes (1,500–2,100 m) decrease than their summer range.

In winter, juncos are acquainted in and around cities, and in lots of locations are the commonest birds at feeders. The slate-colored dark-eyed junco is an uncommon vagrant to western Europe and should efficiently winter in Great Britain, often in home gardens.

These birds forage on the bottom. In winter, they usually forage in flocks which will include a number of subspecies. They primarily eat bugs and seeds. A flock has been recognized to be referred to as a blizzard.

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Dark-eyed Junco Habitat

During the breeding season, Dark-eyed Juncos use quite a lot of forested habitats however choose moist conifer or combined forests with dense understory and forest openings.

During the winter, they are often present in open woodlands and brushy areas together with cities, gardens, and shrub-steppe habitat.

Dark-eyed Junco Behavior

Dark-eyed Juncos are flocking birds with a definite social hierarchy. They forage on the bottom in these teams, scratching with their toes to seek out meals. The flash of white tail feathers serves as a sign that alerts members of the flock when one is alarmed.

Dark-eyed Junco Diet

During the summer, about half of the Dark-eyed Junco’s food plan is made up of bugs and different arthropods, the opposite half consists of seeds. The younger eat principally arthropods. In winter, the food plan shifts more to seeds and berries.

Forages principally whereas hopping and operating on the bottom. Sometimes scratches with its toes in leaf-litter or snow. Will come to bird feeders, however tends to forage on the bottom underneath the feeding tray.


3-5, not often 6. Whitish to bluish-white or pale grey, with markings of brown and grey usually concentrated at a bigger finish. Incubation is by the feminine, about 11-13 days. Young: Both parents feed the nestlings. Young go away from the nest 9-13 days after hatching. 1-2 broods per year, generally 3.


Both dad and mom feed the nestlings. Young go away from the nest 9-13 days after hatching. 1-2 broods per year, generally 3.

Dark-eyed Junco Nesting

The male Dark-eyed Junco sings from an excessive perch to defend his territory and entice a mate. During courtship, each member of a pair hop about on the bottom with their wings drooped and their tails unfold, displaying off their white outer tail feathers. The nest, which the feminine builds, is sort of at all times on the bottom.

It is usually in a depression, hidden underneath the grass, a log, a rock, or an upturned tree root. The nest is a cup fabricated from grass, moss, lichen, rootlets, twigs, and bark fiber, and is lined with high-quality grass, hair, or feathers.

The feminine incubates Three to five eggs for 11 to 13 days. Both dad and mom feed the chicks, which go away from the nest at 9 to 11 days. Pairs sometimes elevate 1 or 2 broods per year.

They often nest in cup-shaped despair on the bottom, nicely hidden by vegetation or different materials, though nests are generally discovered within the decrease branches of a shrub or tree.

The nests have an outer diameter of about 10 cm (3.9 in) and are lined with high-quality grasses and hair. Normally two clutches of 4 eggs are laid through the breeding season.

The barely shiny eggs are grayish or pale bluish-white and closely noticed (generally splotched) with varied shades of brown, purple, or grey.

The recognizing is concentrated on the giant finish of the egg. The eggs are incubated by the feminine for 12 to 13 days. The younger go away from the nest between 11 and 14 days after hatching.

Dark-eyed Junco Call

Juncos make quite a lot of sounds, all of them high-pitched tinkling trills, particularly when flushed from cover. They sing a long ringing trill—tiitiitiitiitiitii—that sounds just like a Chipping Sparrow’s track however is slower and more musical. They additionally give quite a few chip notes (tick!) and quick buzzes in all seasons.

Dark-eyed Junco Identification

The dark-eyed junco is usually referred to as the “snowbird,” as a result of it appears to indicate up at our feeders and in our backyards concurrently the first snows start falling over a lot of the nation.

But even within the Deep South, this member of the sparrow household is a well-recognized winter visitor to backyards, gardens, parks, pastures, and feeding stations.

Few bird species’ ranges cowl North America more totally than that of the dark-eyed junco. In winter it may be present in each state. Spring migration begins as early as March and continues by early June.

During the breeding season, juncos retreat to the far north woods and to coniferous and combined woodlands at excessive elevations. Fall migration begins in mid-August by October.

Their winter habitat preferences run to brushy edge habitat alongside woods, fields, and suburban backyards and parks.

Dark-eyed Junco Migration Status

Most Dark-eyed Juncos are migratory, following the meals provide south, however many will winter over, given adequate meals provide. Males winter farther north than females. Some Washington birds are resident, however, most migrate both north-south or up and down in elevation.

Other Recommended Reading

Conservation Status

Until 1973, the 5 totally different types of the Dark-eyed Junco had been thought of as 5 separate species. Dark-eyed Juncos are widespread and considerable in Washington. Learn more about the sun conure.

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