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Dark-eyed Junco

Junco hyemalis

Dark-eyed Junco, Junco hyemalis, photo © by Michael Plagens

Photo taken at Mesquite Wash, Maricopa Co., Arizona, USA, Oct. 24, 2009. The variety shown here is the 'Oregon Junco'. The image below is a 'Gray-headed Junco' from along Sycamore Creek near Sunflower, just n.e. of Mesquite Wash. Nov. 2009.

Dark-eyed Junco, Junco hyemalis, photo © by Michael Plagens

These familiar birds of the northern United States and Canada filter south come winter. Birds from several different populations winter in the Sonoran Desert, mostly at the higher desert elevations in riparian zones where vegetation and available seeds are more abundant. They are also common in irrigated urban and agricultural areas. Durning the winter they feed mostly on seeds of grasses and other plants and are frequent visitors to bird feeders. Scarce some years and quite common in other years.

Dark-eyed Juncos are recognized by their small size, pale conical bill, black eyes, and white outer tail feathers. There is a lot of variation in the shades of brown, beige and buff on the head, back, chest and flanks. The gray-headed junco is also frequent in the Sonoran Desert durning the winter months. The shoulders are rusty brown and most of the remaining plumage is slate-gray. In oak woodlands above the Sonoran Desert the yellow-eyed junco is a year-round inhabitant.

Winter Resident - Returns to Northern United States and Canada in Summer

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2010