In autumn, flocks of Dark-eyed Juncos travel from the woodlands and mountains of the western United States, Alaska and Canada to the eastern United States. Roughly the same group of birds make up a flock and fly to the same area year after year. The flock spends the night as a group, which helps keep them warm and usually in a conifer, which helps protect them from predators.
Dark eyed Juncos are ground feeders. They eat mainly seeds. During the breeding season, they also eat bugs.
These are sparrow sized birds with a white belly and darker colored -either slate, brown or black- on the head, back and wings. Their bills are pink.
In spring, the males fly to the breeding area ahead of the females. Males stake out sections of the forest and do a great deal of singing. When the females arrive, various strutting and singing occurs. There are still many details of dark eyed Junco courtship yet to be learned.
The female builds a nest, usually on the ground. The nest consists of twigs, pine needles, bark, moss, dried grass and feathers.
She lays 3-6 eggs and incubates them with no assistance from the male. After the chicks hatch, both mom and dad feed them- seeds and bugs. (The legs of insects are removed by the parent prior to feeding it to the youngsters.)
For the first few days, the parents eat the fecal sacs (the poop of the baby birds that comes encased in a mucus membrane). Later, the adults take the sacs to a tree branch and wipe them off their bill onto the branch. Often the same branch is used over and over for this purpose.
Some Dark eyed Junco Facts
- the color of the eggs are gray or pale blue with speckles of reddish brown
- incubation: 12-13 days
- nestling: 9-13 days
- fledgling: 3 weeks
- broods per year: 1-2
Yellow-eyed Juncos live in in the southwestern US and South America.