Dark-Eyed Junco

Dark-Eyed Junco

Kingdom
Phylum
Class
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Junco hyemalis
Population size
260 mln
Life Span
3-11 yrs
WEIGHT
18-30 g
LENGTH
13-17.5 cm
WINGSPAN
18-25 cm

Dark-eyed juncos belong to a group of small grayish American sparrows. Adults generally have gray heads, necks, and breasts, gray or brown backs and wings, and a white belly. The white outer tail feathers flash distinctively in flight and while hopping on the ground. Their bill is usually pale pinkish.

Distribution

Dark-eyed juncos are found throughout North America and in summer range far into the Arctic. Northern birds migrate further south but other populations are permanent residents. Dark-eyed juncos breed in coniferous or mixed forest areas, open woodlands, shrubland, and roadsides. In winter, they can be found in woodland edges, thickets, and in around towns.

Dark-Eyed Junco habitat map

Geography

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Dark-eyed juncos are diurnal and spend their time foraging or perching. They forage on the ground walking or hopping around in search of seeds and may also run over short distances to catch insects. Dark-eyed juncos are social and in winter, they often forage in flocks with other subspecies. Juncos communicate with each other using calls that include 'tick' sounds and very high-pitched tinkling 'chips'.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Dark-eyed juncos are omnivores. They feed mainly on seeds, insects and occasionally berries.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
REPRODUCTION SEASON
begins in April
INCUBATION PERIOD
12-13 days
INDEPENDENT AGE
11-14 days
BABY NAME
chick
BABY CARRYING
4 eggs

Dark-eyed juncos are monogamous which means that one male mates only with one female. The breeding season usually begins in April; the birds nest in a cup-shaped depression on the ground, well hidden by vegetation or other material, although nests are sometimes found in the lower branches of a shrub or tree. The nests are lined with fine grasses and hair. Normally two clutches of 4 eggs are laid during the breeding season. The slightly glossy eggs are grayish or pale bluish-white and heavily spotted (sometimes splotched) with various shades of brown, purple or gray. The eggs are incubated by the female for 12 to 13 days. The chicks leave the nest between 11 and 14 days after hatching and become reproductively mature at 1 year of age.

Population

Population threats

There are no major threats facing Dark-eyed juncos at present.

Population number

According to the IUCN Red List, the total Dark-eyed jay population size is around 260 000 000 mature individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.

Ecological niche

Dark-eyed juncos play an important role in their ecosystem; these little birds help to maintain forests in health and productivity. Due to their diet habits, juncos disperse seeds and help to control populations of various insects they prey on.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The word 'junco' is the Spanish for 'rush', from Latin 'juncus'. Its modern scientific name means "winter junco", from Latin 'hyemalis' which is translated as 'of the winter'.
  • Dark-eyed juncos are known among bird language practitioners as an excellent bird to study for learning "bird language."
  • Dark-eyed juncos are also known as ‘snowbirds’ because they usually appear at the start of winter and then leave again in the spring.

References

1. Dark-Eyed Junco on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark-eyed_junco
2. Dark-Eyed Junco on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22721097/95099443

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