Dark Eyed Junco
Description of the Dark Eyed Junco:
Commonly called snowbird, because of its sudden appearance around winter bird feeding stations, is a member of the sparrow family. In the beginning there were four different birds, slate-color, Oregon, white-winged, and grey-headed. Now, all are re-classified as one species, the dark-eyed Junco.
The dark eyed junco is 12 to 15 centimeters long with a pinkish bill and dark eyes. The male has a black hood and the female has a grey hood and a brown back. The “Gray-headed” race of Vancouver Island has light Gray with a reddish-brown back.
Mating Habits of a Dark Eyed Junco:
These birds are generally monogamous (one male to one female) defending their territory during the nesting and breeding season and although these birds can vary in appearance from region to region, they will breed freely with one another.
Nesting Habits of a Dark Eyed Junco:
The female builds and places its cup shaped nest on the ground near tall vegetation using grasses, moss and twigs in its construction and lining the nest with rootlets.
The female lays 3 to 6 gray or pale bluish eggs with dark blotches with the incubation beginning the night before the last egg is laid. The female incubates the eggs for 12 to 13 days and the young leave the nest about 9 to 13 days after hatching.
Dark eyed juncos may lay 1 – 2 broods’ each season.
Feeding Habits of a Dark Eyed Junco:
These birds feed mostly on the ground, eating weed and grass seeds. In summer this bird feeds mainly on insects.
These birds have an interesting wintering habit; males will winter farther north than females. Younger males will winter farther north than older males.
It’s believed dark-eyed juncos do this in order to get back to the breeding ground to claim territory. Since females do not claim territory, they can winter farther south.