Dark-Eyed Junco

Dark-Eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)

dark-eyed junco

Dark-eyed junco./Tom Berriman

General: This medium-sized sparrow has several subspecies, or races, within its cross-continental range. Adults are dark gray with pale undersides, along with white wing-bars and white outer tail feathers. Juncos prefer forest openings or edges with a dense understory of woody plants and ample ground cover; they will move into an area soon after a disturbance such as a fire or timber harvest. They feed mainly by hopping or running about on the ground, eating seeds and insects. Usually they build their nests on the ground, hidden under overhanging grass or among logs, rocks, or exposed tree roots.

Status: Although dark-eyed juncos remain abundant over much of the species' range, populations are declining annually. As forests increasingly mature, juncos have less dense habitat in which to feed and breed.

How to Help Dark-Eyed Juncos: These birds respond well to forest-management practices that create or maintain young forest. Populations increase in areas that have been logged or burned and where low woody vegetation is growing back.

Both public and private landowners can make this kind of habitat. The Young Forest Guide explains how.

Click on the map at left to see a larger image.

For more detailed information on this animal, including references to scientific papers, download Under Cover: Wildlife of Shrublands and Young Forest. This publication can also be purchased from the Wildlife Management Institute.

Visit a habitat demonstration area within this species' range to increase your chances of seeing dark-eyed juncos and other wildlife that use young forest.