About the Dark-Eyed Junco: Information and Facts on the Junco

The Dark-eyed Junco is a very distinctive bird and is one of the most familiar birds in Ontario.

Ranging in size from 14-17 centimeters the Junco is quite a small bird. When identifying this bird the white outer-tail feathers and pale bill are its most distinguishable features. More specifically males have dark slate grey feathers overall with a white lower breast, belly, and undertail. Females are quite similar but have brown overall instead of grey. Younger Juncos will have feathers similar to the female adult but will be streaked with a darker brown.

Having a wide range across the province the Dark-eyed Junco can be found in almost any moderately sized woodlot, preferring coniferous and mixed forests. During the summer and breeding season, from May to September, the Junco can still be found throughout most of the province especially in the northern areas. Year-round this bird can be found throughout central Ontario along the coasts of Lake Superior and Lake Huron.

A distinctive behavioural habit of the Dark-eyd Junco compared to other feeder birds is that they would rather be on the ground then in a tree. A Junco prefers eating the fallen seeds, that other birds have knocked from the feeder rather than perching in the feeder itself. Also, Junco nests will be located on the ground usually hidden by a tree root, log, rock, or small shrub. Taking time to build their nests females will build a cup nest of twigs first which will then be lined with grass and moss along with a lining of hair. Females will then incubate between three and five whitish to bluish-white eggs marked with brown and grey for about twelve to thirteen days.

Most Dark-eyed Juncos will migrate to the Southern parts of Ontario for the winter, but it is not uncommon to see a few scattered birds remain back. Though the Dark-eyed Junco is a very common bird in Ontario there are specific spots which are best for spotting this bird: Petroglyphs Provincial Park in Peterborough, Killarney Provincial Park, Lake Superior Provincial Park, Pukaskwa National Park in Heron Bay, and Quetico Provincial Park in Atikokan.

The Dark-Eyed Junco has five sub-species which all appear to be different birds: these include: the Oregon Junco, the Grey-Headed Junco, the White-winged Junco, the Guadalupe Junco, and the sub-species the Slate-coloured Junco which is most common to Ontario.