Junco

The junco has several regional variations all very distinct looking. All juncos share the same general features including a dark black hood, white outer tail feathers that flash as they fly, a white belly, dark eyes, and pink legs and beaks. They are also approximately 13 to 15 cm in length and weigh around 18 to 30 g. Juncos of different sexes are similar, but females are generally pale and browner in comparison to males.

Juncos usually place their nests in depressions found in the ground hidden by a bush or are placed against a lower branch of a tree, or on tufts of grassy vegetation. The nests are cup-shaped and are made of grass, twig, bark, and other plant materials, and are lined with fine grass and animal hair. The nests usually have an outer diameter of about 10 cm. The female junco lays up to 5 eggs that are grey or pale bluish-white in color. The eggs usually have blotches that come in various shades of brown, purple, and gray. Juncos raise 1 to 2 broods each breeding season.

Junco’s pair at the beginning of the breeding season. They stay faithful to their selected partner and defend their mutual territory together till the end of the breeding season.

Juncos forage on the ground for their food. Their diet consists mostly of insects, seeds, and weeds. Since juncos like to eat seeds they are easily attracted to bird feeders especially those with cracked corn and sunflower seeds.

Juncos are also called snowbirds because they suddenly appear during winter in areas where winter feeding stations can be found. In fact, juncos are the most common birds to be found at bird feeders during winter in North America. On Vancouver Island, our winter bird feeders are usually full of juncos. I look forward to seeing the juncos return to our feeders in late September and stay all winter. Sometimes I can have them in the hundreds at my feeders and watching them literally covering the snow is awesome. They keep my yard active and busy.

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4 thoughts on “Junco”

  1. I’ve been seeing for a couple yrs a bird that looks like a guadalupe junco hanging out with the regular juncos in my and my neighbors yards. I tried 2 google 2 identify slightly larger than junco blackish head and back, reddish breast, long tail. Does anyone know what kind of bird it is and why it is always with the juncos ?

    1. I think your 2nd bird is a Towhee, also sometimes called a catbird on Vancouver Island because of the cry it makes. Red eye, red sides on the breast, black back, and it hops a fair distance. Towhee’s love to scratch in the underbrush, making a vigorous two-footed scratching hop. They also Love blueberries. They are evil that way 😀

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