|Species: Dark-eyed Junco
Junco, one of the most common and familiar North American
passerines. It occurs across the continent from northern Alaska
south to northern Mexico. It is familiar because of its ubiquity,
abundance, tameness and conspicuous ground-foraging winter flocks
which are often found in suburbs (especially at feeders), at edges
of parks and similar landscaped areas, around farms and along rural
roadsides and stream edges.
Its plumage is characterized by white outer tail-feathers that flash
when the bird takes flight and by a gray or blackish ‘hood’ and dark
back that contrast with its whitish breast and belly.
Audubon stated that “there is not an individual in the Union who
does not know the little Snow-Bird”, and to some people “snowbird”
is the junco’s name today.
Medium sized sparrow. Exhibits marked geographic variation in
plumage colouration and moderate variation in size.
14.5-16.5 cm length. 18-22 g weight.
Oregon Juncos have a dark gray to black hood, with a convex bib on
their breast, dark chestnut back and scapulars, and rusty brown
flanks. Conspicuous white outer tail-feathers that flash when the
bird takes flight.
Adult female: Slightly duller, with grayer hoods, often brown
on the nape and hind neck.
Forehead and crown brown, profusely streaked with dark brown; back,
rump, and uppertail-coverts rusty, streaked with darker brown; tail
dark brown with two lateral rectrices white; wings blackish, with
coverts tipped with whitish or buffy white, forming two whitish
wing-bars; throat and breast heavily streaked; flanks strongly
tinged with buff; belly white or buffy white.
Similar Species: Oregon Juncos can generally be separated
from Pink-sided Juncos by their darker hoods and browner flanks,
although female Oregon Juncos are confused with Pink-sided Juncos.
Gray-headed Juncos have gray heads with grayish white underparts,
redder back and grayish flanks.
This lively territorial bird is a ground dweller and feeds on seeds
and small fruits in the open. It also moves through the lower
branches of trees and seeks shelter in tangles of shrubs. Males sing
persistently from an exposed perch.
Habitat Opening and edges of conifers and mixed woods; in winter
roadsides, parks, suburban gardens, or patchy wooded areas in small
flocks. Generally breeds in open coniferous forests.
Until the 1970s the
currently recognized Dark-eyed Junco was split into 5 distinct
species, 3 of them comprising 2 or more subspecies. The American
Ornithologist Union (1973, 1982) lumped these 5 species but
acknowledged the distinctiveness of the former species by
designating them and their subspecies as “informal” groups of Junco
hyemalis. Each group bears the scientific and vernacular name that
it previously bore as a species: hyemalis (Slate Coloured Junco);
aikeni (White-wing Junco); oreganus (Oregon Junco); caniceps
(Grey-headed Junco); and insularis (Guadalupe Junco).
There are 3-5, usually 4, white, sometimes tinged with green, and
spotted or blotched with reddish brown eggs. They are found in a
compact nest of rootlets, shreds of bark, twigs, and mosses, lined
with grasses and hair, on the ground protected by a rock ledge, mud
bank, tufts of weeds, or a fallen log.
Conservation Status: No
Colony Farm is a preferred winter habitat for Oregon Junco.
This is reflected in high capture rates (2010-2012;
standardized as birds captured per 100 net hours) in October
through March. As the species moves to their breeding
territory in forested areas at higher elevation, numbers at
the banding station decrease.