Dark-Eyed Juncos: “Leaden skies above, snow below.”

I thought I should add to my backyard bird series, as I haven’t written a “Species of the Week” post in a very long time.

Our most abundant customer this winter is a Dark-eyed Junco, a small, round variety of sparrow. Hopping around the deck, these cute little fellas are not particularly flashy or colourful, but easy to recognize.

Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)


They are found throughout North America in the winter, and in summer in the forests of the Western mountains and Canada. They are one of the most abundant birds in North America.

My particular visitors have slate-coloured top feathers and white bellies, with a light bill. Their tails are fairly long and white on the underside. Their colouring has been described with the term: “leaden skies above, snow below.”

They prefer the ground, and spend most of their time on our deck scavenging the remains that the chickadees have dropped.

Juncos make high chipping sounds that you can listen to here: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/dark-eyed_junco/sounds

In the fall, we always leave tall plants with seed heads attached in our garden so that birds can feed on them throughout winter. I read about one particular Junco habit called “riding” where they land on a seed head of a tall grass and “ride” it to the ground to eat. I haven’t seen this yet, but I will certainly be watching now!






Posted on January 26, 2015, in Species of the week and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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