Dark-Eyed Junco
Kingdom
Phylum
Class
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Junco hyemalis
Population size
220 Mlnlnn
Life Span
3-11 years
Weight
18-30
0.6-1.1
goz
g oz 
Length
13-17.5
5.1-6.9
cminch
cm inch 
Wingspan
18-25
7.1-9.8
cminch
cm inch 

The Dark-eyed junco (Junco hyemalis) is a member of a group of small, grayish New World sparrows. This bird is common across much of temperate North America and in summer ranges far into the Arctic. The name of these birds appears to derive from the Spanish term for the plant genus Juncus (rushes); however, juncos are seldom found among rush plants that grow in wet ground and instead, they prefer to occur in areas with dry soil.

Di

Diurnal

Om

Omnivore

Ar

Arboreal

Te

Terrestrial

Al

Altricial

Zo

Zoochory

Te

Territorial

Ov

Oviparous

Mo

Monogamy

So

Social

Fl

Flocking

Do

Dominance hierarchy

Pa

Partial Migrant

D

starts with

Appearance

Adult Dark-eyed juncos generally have gray heads, necks, and breasts, gray or brown backs and wings, and a white belly, but show a confusing amount of variation in plumage details. The white outer tail feathers flash distinctively in flight and while hopping on the ground. The bill is usually pale pinkish. Males tend to have darker, more conspicuous markings than females. Juveniles often have pale streaks on their underparts and may even be mistaken for Vesper sparrows (Pooecetes gramineus) until they acquire adult plumage at 2 to 3 months. However, Dark-eyed junco fledglings' heads are generally quite uniform in color already, and initially, their bills still have conspicuous yellowish edges to the gape, remains of the fleshy wattles that guide the parents when they feed the nestlings.

Video

Distribution

Geography

Dark-eyed juncos are found throughout North America and in the 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 around towns.

Dark-Eyed Junco habitat map

Climate zones

Dark-Eyed Junco habitat map
Dark-Eyed Junco
Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

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
Bird's call

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
web.animal_clutch_size
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 220 million mature individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List but its numbers today are decreasing.

Ecological niche

Dark-eyed juncos play an important role in their ecosystem; these little birds help to maintain the forest 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

  • Modern scientific name of this species 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.

Coloring Pages

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
3. Xeno-canto bird call - https://xeno-canto.org/703742

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