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Dark-eyed Junco

A Dark-eyed Junco	(Junco hyemalis) on a branch in fall.
Dark-eyed Junco in Fall

Dark-eyed Junco

(Junco hyemalis)


Being ground-feeders, Dark-eyed Juncos primarily feed on seed. At feeders, they seem to prefer millet, hulled sunflower seed and cracked corn.


Platform feeders are the best feeders but make sure you sprinkle plenty of good quality bird seed mix on the ground.


The Dark-eyed Junco is a medium-sized sparrow with a rounded head, a short, stout bill, and a fairly long, noticeable tail. Juncos vary across the country, but in general, they’re slate gray or brown birds brightened up by a pink bill and white outer tail feathers that periodically flash open during flight. Males tend to have darker, more conspicuous markings than the females


My favorite winter bird, the Dark-eyed Junco is one of the most common birds in North America. They can be found all across the continent, from Alaska to Mexico, from California to New York. A recent estimate set the junco’s total population at 630 million birds. Dark-eyed Juncos are cool, flashy little sparrows that flit about the forest floors of the western mountains and Canada in warmer months. When winter weather hits, they flood the rest of North America, giving them the nickname “snowbirds”.

Look for small flocks at or near your feeders. Keep your eyes on the ground and listen for their ticking call (it sounds like a Star Wars TIE fighter!), or their pleasant song.

Surprisingly, they build their nests on the ground or very close to the ground. Junco nests are found amid tall grasses or brushy undergrowth that offer protection from the elements and predators, such as chipmunks. The female Junco weaves plant materials such as moss, twigs, and leaves into a tightly woven cup and uses her body weight to create an impression to lay her eggs.

A Dark-eyed Junco	(Junco hyemalis) feeds on the ground.
Dark-eyed Junco

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about the Dark-eyed Junco. If you have any experience in attracting these beautiful wild birds, you can share it with everyone by leaving a comment below. Please share this blog post with your friends and family who have a love for backyard birding.


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