Dark-Eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)

The Dark-eyed Junco or the Junco hyemalis is 5.25 to 6 inches, or 14 to 16 cm, in length and has a pinkish, conical bill and white outer tail feathers. The wingspan is 7 to 10 inches, or 18 to 25 cm, in length and it weighs 18 to 30 grams. The Dark-eyed Junco varies in coloring depending on its geographical location. Before, the various forms of the Junco were considered to be separate species but now they are considered to be all the same.

The White-winged Junco has a medium gray head and upper body, with a pure white belly and wing bars. The female and the young birds are a browner looking colour to the male, as described above. The White-Winged junco breeds from Montana to Nebraska.

The Oregon Junco on the other hand has a dark gray head and breast with a brown back and wings. The females and young differ in that their colour is duller then the male. This variety of the bird breeds from Alaska to California.

The Slate-coloured Junco is similar to the Oregon Junco in that it also has a dark gray head and upper body and a white belly. The females and young are also browner than the male. The Slate-coloured junco breeds in eastern United States and Canada.

The Pink-sided Junco name comes from the bird’s pinkish flanks. The Junco has a medium gray head and breast and dark lores. The Junco’s back and wings are brown and its belly is white in colour. Like the other varieties, the female and the immature birds are browner in colour then the male. This variety of the Junco breeds from Alberta to Idaho.

The last of the varieties is the Gray-headed Junco, which breeds in the Rocky Mountains. It has a medium gray plumage, which is paler in colour on the belly. The back is a rusty colour, the lores are dark and occasionally the Gray-headed junco has a dark upper mandible.

Other species that are similar in appearance to the Dark-eyed Junco is the local southeastern Arizona, Yellow-eyed Junco, and the difference being the dark eyes. The Black-chinned Sparrow is also similar in colour. It has a streaked back with brown wings but doesn’t have white feathers in its tail. This common small sparrow is widespread and is seen often as a winter visitor at all the bird feeders.