Dark-eyed JuncoJunco hyemalis

adult male, Oregon junco
Laure W. Neish/VIREO
adult,  Gray-headed
Brian E. Small/VIREO
adult female, Slate-colored
Claude Nadeau/VIREO
adult male, Oregon junco
Bob Steele/VIREO
adult female, Oregon Junco; British Columbia
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
juvenile, Oregon junco
Kevin Smith/VIREO
adult male,Pink-sided
Greg Lasley/VIREO
adult, Pink-sided
Brian E. Small/VIREO
adult male, Slate-colored
Gerard Bailey/VIREO
adult, Red-backed
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
Dark-eyed Junco

Description

5-6 1/4" (13-16 cm). This species shows much geographic variation in color. Typically, male of western population ("Oregon Junco") has black hood, chestnut mantle, white underparts with buff sides. Eastern male ("Slate-colored Junco") is dark slate-gray on head, upper breast, flanks, and upperparts, with white lower breast and belly. Both forms have pink bill and dark gray tail with white outer tail feathers conspicuous in flight. The pine forests of the Black Hills in western South Dakota and eastern Montana have an isolated population ("White-winged Junco") similar to the eastern form but with 2 white wing bars and extensive white outer tail feathers. Birds of the Southwest ("Gray-headed Juncos") are gray overall, with a reddish-brown back. Female "Oregon Junco" has gray hood; females of all forms less colorful.

Voice

Ringing metallic trill on the same pitch. Members of a flock may spread out widely, keeping in contact by constantly calling tsick or tchet. Also a soft buzzy trill in flight.

Listen

odd 2-parted buzzy songs
songs
alarm chips
spring warbling song #2
spring warbling song #1
2-parted songs followed by various calls
two males countersinging
various other calls

Habitat

Openings and edges of coniferous and mixed woods; in winter, fields, roadsides, parks, suburban gardens.

Range

Breeds from Alaska east across Canada to Newfoundland, south to mountains in Mexico and Georgia. Winters south to Gulf Coast and northern Mexico.

Discussion

This lively territorial bird is a ground dweller and feeds on seeds and small fruits in the open. It also moves through the lower branches of trees and seeks shelter in the tangle of shrubs. Until recently the many geographical forms of this bird were considered separate species, but since they interbreed wherever their ranges meet, they are now considered one species.

Nesting

3-6 pale bluish or greenish eggs, with variegated blotches concentrated at the larger end, in a deep, compact nest of rootlets, shreds of bark, twigs, and mosses, lined with grasses and hair, placed on or near the ground, protected by a rock ledge, a mud bank, tufts of weeds, or a fallen log.

Similar Species

adult

American Dipper

7-8 1/2" (18-22 cm). A uniformly slate-gray, wren-shaped bird with stubby tail; yellowish feet. Always found near rushing water.

adult

Yellow-eyed Junco

5 1/2-6 1/2" (14-17 cm). Unique bright yellow-orange eye and black lores. Bill has dark upper mandible and pale lower mandible. Gray above, with bright rusty mantle and white outer tail feathers.

adult male

Black-chinned Sparrow

5-5 1/2" (13-14 cm). A gray sparrow with black chin and eye smudge, pink bill, chestnut-streaked mantle, white belly. Thin white wing bars. Female and juveniles lack black facial markings.

adult

Black Phoebe

6-7" (15-18 cm). Slate-black except for white belly, undertail coverts, and outer tail feathers. Its tail-wagging, erect posture, and insectivorous feeding habits are helpful in field identification.

Vireo

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