10 FUN & INTERESTING Facts About Juncos! (2023)
Don’t let their small size fool you.
Dark-eyed Juncos are incredibly interesting!
These birds are common visitors to bird feeders, especially in winter! Personally, I love how their white and gray tail feathers look as they fly away. 🙂
Today, you will learn 10 FUN facts about Dark-eyed Juncos!
Enjoy! And I can almost guarantee that after reading this post, you will impress your friends with your new knowledge.
Fact #1. Juncos have SIX color variations!
Honestly, I don’t think you will believe this first fact about juncos.
All the birds you see below are Dark-eyed Juncos (Junco hyemalis).
I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Dark-eyed Juncos look completely different depending on their geographic range!
Interestingly, one feature that all the variations have in common is the white flash you see as they fly away, which is caused by their outer white tail feathers.
Fact #2. Juncos LOVE to eat on the ground.
Forget fancy bird feeders if you want to attract Dark-eyed Juncos. These birds prefer feeding on the ground!
Seriously, the best place to spot them is hopping around under your bird feeders or around trees or shrubs looking for fallen seeds.
You may be able to observe a junco RIGHT NOW on my bird feeders!
Here is a LIVE view of my GROUND feeding station:
*Learn about my two LIVE cams HERE!
Fact #3. Juncos eat mostly seeds.
About 75% of a junco’s diet is seeds. The rest consists of insects such as beetles, butterflies, ants, caterpillars, and flies during the breeding season.
Naturally, Dark-eyed Juncos eat seeds from many different plants. A few examples are chickweed, buckwheat, lamb’s quarters, sorrel, ragweed, smartweed, pigweed, purslane, vetch, thistles, and crabgrasses.
If you want to attract them to your feeders, make sure to supply the following foods near the ground:
*RELATED: Bird Seed 101: The 10 Best Types For Wild Birds*
Fact #4. Juncos only migrate at night.
Juncos typically migrate at night at very low altitudes. They evolved this strategy to help avoid predators.
Unfortunately, they are still learning to adapt to humans. As a result, these small birds sometimes collide with communication towers and other man-made structures.
Fact #5. Juncos are known as “Snowbirds.”
Dark-eyed Juncos have earned the nickname “Snowbirds” or “Winter birds” because they show up every winter in many parts of their range.
So what is happening here?
Well, it’s not that Dark-eyed Juncos love cold weather. It’s just that they spend their summers breeding in northern Canada and Alaska. So when I see these birds every winter at my feeders, it’s because they have MIGRATED SOUTH to Ohio to avoid the brutal winters farther north!
As you can see, even though they are small, these birds are incredibly tough!
In some places where the weather is perfect for them, juncos will stay around all year long. I wonder if they call them “All Seasons Birds” in these locations?
Fact #6. Juncos have a massive population.
There are approximately 200 million Dark-eyed Juncos. This makes them one of the most numerous birds in North America!
One key to their success is their range. Just look how widespread they are!
Fact #7. They return every year to the same territory.
If you are lucky enough to have juncos where you live for the winter, chances are you will probably have the same birds at your feeders next year.
That’s because Dark-eyed Juncos like to return to the same area each winter. Which makes sense; they are just like us. If we find a good restaurant, we continue to go back.
Flocks typically consist of 6 to 20 birds, and their territory is approximately 10 acres large.
Fact #8. Juncos nest on the ground!
These ground-feeding birds spend most of their lives on the ground, so it is not surprising that they also nest on the ground.
Unfortunately, their nesting location also means their eggs are often victims of predators. Mice and chipmunks are known to eat their eggs.
And if that’s not bad enough:
Brown-headed Cowbirds often lay eggs inside junco nests. Most of the time, the female can’t recognize that the egg is not hers, so she ends up raising the cowbird as her chick.
Fact #9. Their song sounds like a car alarm!
The Dark-eyed Junco’s song is a continuous sharp chirping that lasts up to 2 seconds. It’s LOUD, and you can hear it from several hundred feet away.
Listen below to hear an example:
Because of its simplicity, the song is one of the easiest bird songs to recognize.
Fact #10. Juncos are sparrows.
This junco fact may surprise you:
Dark-eyed Juncos are in the sparrow family.
Although their size is similar, they are way prettier than your average sparrow! That is just my opinion, of course! 🙂
I hope you enjoyed reading these fun and exciting facts about Juncos!
Is there anything you know about Dark-eyed Juncos you think is worth sharing?
If so, please leave a COMMENT below!
Unfortunately the squirrels in our backyard don’t mind the hot pepper at all. I buy fat cylinders containing hot pepper oil, seed and suet and they are very expensive! So it is upsetting when the squirrels devour it. This year I put a cylinder on our upper deck and all I get is European starlings at it. Other birds try to land (cardinal, chickadee), but the startlings won’t allow it. There are sometimes 5 starlings on it at once. I live in Southern Ontario. We have an abundance of the darling juncos.
Melanie, for a smaller seed, try nyjer/thistle. Goldfinches love it, but house sparrows and squirrels do not.
Hi Melanie, have you tried squirrel proof suet and feed? It’s treated with hot pepper oil, that squirrels won’t eat but the birds will. The squirrels that are in my area never touch it!! If I put out “regular” suet, the squirrels will literally devour it.
im with joe squirrels even eat my suet.but safflower keeps them out of big feeder.house sparrows and squirrels eat all the little seeds my yellow finches enjoy any ideas.
Wonderful information, thank you Scott!
I’m so pleased to know the juncos are ground diners. I have a cylinder hanging feeder with perches too small for larger birds like doves and blue jays, so I always put feed on the ground for them. I hope the ground seed will attract the juncos. 🙂
I’m new to Alabama (from Southwest Florida) and have so much to learn. Your info is helping so much. Thank you again,
I had 2 last winter. This year they brought lots of friends!! I love watching them. Sometimes they wait until the cardinals or woodpeckers come to the feeders then fly in to eat. Sometimes they just land on my platform feeder😊
Nice article. I stick with safflower so as to keep the squirrels and house sparrows away.
The finches and chickadees drop enough of it to keep plenty of juncos around.