Dark-Eyed Junco

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Male "Slate-Colored" Dark-Eyed Junco
Male "Slate-Colored" Dark-Eyed Junco

Latin: Junco Hyemalis

Habitat: During breeding season, Dark-eyed Juncos prefer the bushy edges of

Male "Oregon" Dark-Eyed Junco

coniferous forests, but may also be found in deciduous forests. In winter and during migration, they may occupy open woodlands, fields, parks and gardens.

Diet: Dark-eyed juncos are ground foragers. Their primary food sources are seeds from chickweed, buckwheat, lamb's quarters and sorrel. During breeding season, they also eat insects.

Nesting:  Females build nests, usually on or close to the ground. Nest materials vary depending on the location of the nest, but could include twigs, leaves, moss and grass. The average clutch size is 3-6 eggs, and the incubation period lasts 12-13 days.

Appearance: Dark-eyed juncos have widely variable coloring, and can be separated into several distinct populations throughout North America. Two of those populations are found in the Puget Sound region. The "slate-colored" junco  is smooth gray on top, with white underbelly and tail feathers. The "Oregon" junco is distinguished by its dark gray hood and warm brown back.

Range: Oregon juncos are year-round residents of the Puget Sound region. Slate-colored juncos migrate to Canada in the spring to breed, and return to the lower 48 United States in the winter, where they are common across the country.

Female "Oregon" Dark-Eyed Junco

Behavior: When foraging, dark-eyed juncos hop along the ground. They are also very agile flyers as they maneuver through tangled branches near the ground. In summer, male juncos are very territorial and will chase off intruders; in winter juncos form large flocks. There may be more than one subspecies represented in the flocks, and they typically have a hierarchy based on arrival time (earlier arrivals tend to rank higher than later arrivals).

Vocalization: Their song is a ringing metallic trill, most frequently sung by males during breeding season. Members of a winter flock may spread out widely and keep in contact via a companion call that is a short, high-pitched chipping sound.


  • Known as "snowbirds" in the middle latitudes; their arrival signals the onset of winter.
  • One of the most common birds in North America, with an estimated population of approximately 630 million individuals. Can be found across the continent
  • The oldest recorded Dark-eyed junco was 11 years, 4 months old.





Morse, Bob, Tom Aversa, & Hal Opperman. Birds of the Puget Sound Region. Olympia, WA: RW Morse Company, 2003.

Photos: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/dark-eyed_junco/id