Dark-eyed Junco: Medium-sized sparrow with considerable geographic color variation, although all exhibit a pink bill, dark eyes, white belly, and dark-centered tail with white outer feathers. Gray-headed form has gray head, rump, breast, and sides, and rust-brown back. Slate-colored form is slate-gray overall with darker head. Oregon form has black hood, chestnut-brown back and buff-brown flanks. White-winged form is blue-gray overall and shows two white wing bars. Pink-sided form is blue-gray with darker wings and pink-gray flanks. Female of each form resembles male but is usually paler. Juveniles of all forms are heavily streaked brown with darker heads, white bellies, and white outer tail feathers.
Range and Habitat
Dark-eyed Junco: Breeds from Alaska east across Canada to Newfoundland, and south to the mountains in Mexico and Georgia. Winters south to the Gulf Coast and northern Mexico. Preferred habitats include openings and edges of coniferous and mixed woods. In the winter, frequents fields, roadsides, parks, and suburban gardens.
Breeding and Nesting
Dark-eyed Junco: Three to six white to blue eggs marked with brown and gray, are laid in a deep, compact nest made of rootlets, shreds of bark, twigs, and mosses, lined with grass and hair, and usually built on or near the ground, protected by a rock ledge, mud bank, tufts of weeds, or a fallen log. Occasionally builds nest in a shrub or low tree less than 20 feet above the ground. Incubation ranges from 11 to 13 days and is carried out by the female.
Foraging and Feeding
Dark-eyed Junco: Diet includes seeds, berries, insects, and fruits. Forages by gleaning from vegetation and scratching on the ground; may also hawk flying insects. In spring and fall joins mixed-species foraging flocks.
Cracked Corn, Peanuts, Nut Meats
Dark-eyed Junco: Song is a ringing metallic trill on the same pitch. Members of a flock, which may spread out widely, keep in contact by constantly calling "tsick" or "tchet."
Dark-eyed Junco: Yellow-eyed Junco has yellow eyes, black lores, rufous back, and paler gray head and nape. Black-chinned Sparrow has streaked back, brown wings, and lacks white tail edges.