Dark-eyed Junco

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Dark-eyed Junco
Junco
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Passeriformes
Family:Emberizidae
Genus:Junco
Species:J. hyemalis
Binomial name
Junco hyemalis
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The Dark-eyed Junco, Junco hyemalis, is the best-known species of junco, a genus of small American sparrows.

Adults are generally grey on top with a white belly and white outer tail feathers. The bill is usually pinkish. There are several regional variations:

  • The Slate-colored Junco (J. hyemalis hyemalis) has a dark slate grey head, breast and upper parts. Females are brownish grey. It is found in North America in taiga forests from Alaska to Newfoundland and south to the Appalachian Mountains, wintering further south; it is relatively common in its range.
  • The White-winged Junco (J. hyemalis aikeni) has a grey head, breast and upper parts with white wing bars. Females are brownish grey. It is found in the mid-western United States in the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming, and is relatively rare.
  • The Oregon Junco (J. hyemalis oreganus) is found on the Pacific coast mountains from southeastern Alaska to California. It has (see photo, right) a blackish-gray head and breast with a brown back and wings. This is the most common form in the west.
  • The Pink-sided Junco (J. hyemalis mearnsi) has a grey head and breast, with a brown back and wings. It has pinkish-brown flanks. It is found in the northern Rocky Mountains from southern Alberta, Canada to Idaho and Wyoming in the northern United States.
  • The Gray-headed Junco (J. hyemalis caniceps) is found in the southern Rocky Mountains from Colorado to central Arizona. It is mainly grey on top with a rusty back, similar to the Yellow-eyed Junco except having dark eyes like the other races of J. hyemalis.

Their breeding habitat is coniferous or mixed forest areas throughout North America. They usually nest in a well-hidden location on the ground or low in a shrub or tree.

Northern birds migrate further south; many populations are permanent residents. Slate-coloured Junco is a rare vagrant to western Europe and has wintered in Great Britain, usually in a domestic garden.

These birds forage on the ground. In winter, they often forage in flocks. They mainly eat insects and seeds.

The song is a trill similar to the Chipping Sparrow.

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