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December 5, 2010 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed JuncoOne of my favorite winter birds is the Dark-eyed Junco. This is a migratory sparrow that spends spring and summer in the forests and mountains of the northern part of North America, mostly Canada. In the winter they move south into the US. That’s right, this bird considers Chicago a nice place to spend the winter and they don’t seem to mind the snow. While I enjoy seeing them arrive about the end of October, their presence means that cold weather is near.

Dark-eyed JuncoIf you put out a bird feeder they can be seen hopping around and scratching the ground beneath it. They are flashy little birds and seem to be in constant motion. That makes them difficult to photograph. In the first picture I got lucky and this little female stood still for one second. In the next picture you can see male was scratching around; one leg is up in the air.

Dark-eyed JuncoThe last picture was taken yesterday in the snow. This bird was trying to land on the squirrel deterrent cone to get at those sun flower seeds that were sticking to it. I like this shot because you can see the outer white tail feathers typical of the slate-colored form. There are different geographic color variations in juncos. The most common ones are the slate-colored, found in the eastern US and most of Canada, and the “Oregon” junco in the western US, which has a dark gray hood, pale peach flanks and rusty back.

The Dark-eyed Junco is one of the most common birds in North America and can be found across the continent. They can often be seen foraging on the ground with other sparrows and if you look closely at the winter flocks you can see them mixed in. Males and females look generally the same with the females a little lighter and browner than the males.

Click on the photos for larger, clearer, versions.



Leave a Comment
  1. Alyce / Dec 5 2010 12:04 pm

    I love your bird photos! We have Oregon Juncos here and I think they are pretty and fun to watch.


  2. dyane / Dec 5 2010 12:18 pm

    love the one @ the sunflower seeds wings spread great shot.


  3. Rebecca Rasmussen / Dec 5 2010 1:57 pm

    Love as usual. Happy Sunday, Leslie 🙂


  4. Ash / Dec 7 2010 10:06 pm

    That last photo is absolutely beautiful. I love the detail on the wings. I’ve never heard of this bird before but I have probably seen one.


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