The Neighborly Junco


Dark-eyed Junco, Junco hyemalis

Order: Songbirds (Passeriformes)

Family: American sparrows (Passerellidae)

Identification: Numerous subspecies in America. All have a pink bill and white outer tail feathers visible in flight. Our local subspecies, the “Oregon” junco, has a dark hood (black in males, charcoal in females), pink-brown sides, brown back and white belly.

Sound: Song is a two-second trill, given from a high perch. Calls, often given in flight, are a rapid series of high, sharp chirps.

Habitat: Present in a variety of habitats, including coniferous forest, mixed forest, alpine areas, parks and gardens. Forages in flocks in non-breeding season, often flying from the ground into bushes. Seeds are the majority of the junco’s diet, supplemented with insects and spiders.

Names: In many parts of the U.S. juncos are called “snowbirds” because they migrate south and appear at feeders when snow falls. Others call them “executioner birds” for their dark hoods. “Junco” is Spanish for rush, and “hyemalis” is Latin, meaning of the winter.