Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)

Dark-eyed Junco

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Emberizidae | [latin] Junco hyemalis | [UK] Dark-eyed Junco | [FR] Pinson ardoise | [DE] Junko | [ES] Junco Pizarroso | [NL] Grijze Junco


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Junco hyemalis NA n, w s USA to Mexico
Junco hyemalis aikeni
Junco hyemalis caniceps
Junco hyemalis carolinensis
Junco hyemalis cismontanus
Junco hyemalis dorsalis
Junco hyemalis hyemalis
Junco hyemalis mearnsi
Junco hyemalis montanus
Junco hyemalis mutabilis
Junco hyemalis oreganus
Junco hyemalis pinosus
Junco hyemalis pontilis
Junco hyemalis shufeldti
Junco hyemalis thurberi
Junco hyemalis townsendi

Physical charateristics

Dark-eyed Juncos are between 13 to 17 cm in length. Males are slightly larger and more brightly plumaged than females. While plumage characteristics vary, all Dark-eyed Juncos exhibit a basic plumage form. They are predominately gray above with white or pinkish wash to the undersides, with white outer tail feathers.
Dark-eyed Juncos are flocking birds with a distinct social hierarchy. They forage on the ground in these groups, scratching with their feet to find food. The flash of white tail feathers serve as a signal that alerts members of the flock when one is alarmed.

Listen to the sound of Dark-eyed Junco

[audio:http://www.aviflevoland.nl/sounddb/D/Dark-eyed Junco.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 18 cm wingspan max.: 25 cm
size min.: 14 cm size max.: 16 cm
incubation min.: 12 days incubation max.: 13 days
fledging min.: 9 days fledging max.: 13 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 6  


North America : North, West


During the breeding season, Dark-eyed Juncos use a variety of forested habitat, but prefer moist conifer or mixed forests with dense understory and forest openings. During the winter, they can be found in open woodlands and brushy areas including towns, gardens, and shrub-steppe habitat.


The male Dark-eyed Junco sings from a high perch to defend his territory and attract a mate. During courtship, both members of a pair hop about on the ground with their wings drooped and their tails spread, showing off their white outer tail feathers. The nest, which the female builds, is almost always on the ground. It is often in a depression, hidden under grass, a log, a rock, or an upturned tree root. The nest is a cup made of grass, moss, lichen, rootlets, twigs, and bark fiber, and is lined with fine grass, hair, or feathers. The female incubates 3 to 5 eggs for 11 to 13 days. Both parents feed the chicks, which leave the nest at 9 to 11 days. Pairs typically raise 1 or 2 broods per year.

Feeding habits

During the summer, about half of the Dark-eyed Junco’s diet is made up of insects and other arthropods, the other half consists of seeds. The young eat mostly arthropods. In winter, the diet shifts more to seeds and berries.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Dark-eyed Junco status Least Concern


Status varies. Northern populations largely migratory. Other populations partially migratory to sedentary according to latitude; some make altitudinal movements. Winters from southern Alaska and southern Canada east to Newfoundland, south throughout USA to northern Mexico. Migration (both seasons) on broad front east of Rockies, with channelling through valleys in west, but movement along coasts is not typical. Frequent vagrant to Canadian and Alaskan Arctic; also recorded north-west to Pribilof islands, and (both seasons) eastern Siberia.
Rare vagrant to west Palearctic, especially in spring. 18 records from Britain and Ireland up to 1995, of which 14 in April-May and 4 in December-February; 2 birds present December-March. Individual recorded at Gibraltar 18-25 May 1986 coincided there with arrival of White-throated Sparrow.

Distribution map

Dark-eyed Junco distribution range map

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