Weather and Effort: December 10, 2008
When did you watch your feeders? Day 1:   morning   afternoon
Day 2:   morning  afternoon
Estimated cumulative time: 1 to 4 hours
Daylight temperature: 1 to 10° C (33 to 50° F) low
11 to 20° C (51 to 68° F) high
Daylight precipitation: None – –
Total depth of ice/snow cover: None

 

Checklist for FeederWatch California Region Birds

Mourning Dove 6
Black-chinned Hummingbird 1
Anna’s Hummingbird 1
Steller’s Jay 2
Western Scrub-Jay 5
Chestnut-backed Chickadee 3
Oak Titmouse 1
California Towhee 2
White-crowned Sparrow 10
Golden-crowned Sparrow 2
Dark-eyed Junco 5
House Finch 9    (0 with eye disease)

junco-dark-eyed-oregon-form

Photo courtesy of  Cornell University Project FeederWatch

Oregon Dark-eyed Junco

A widespread and common small sparrow, the Dark-eyed Junco is most familiar as a winter visitor to bird feeders. It comes in several distinctly different looking forms, but all are readily identified as “juncos” by their plain patterning, dark hood, and white outer tail feathers.

Description

  • Medium-sized sparrow.
  • Unstreaked gray or brown, no wingbars (usually).
  • Gray to black hood.
  • Belly white.
  • White outer tail feathers.
  • Eyes dark. Legs pink.
  • Size: 14-16 cm (6-6 in)
  • Wingspan: 18-25 cm (7-10 in)
  • Weight: 18-30 g (0.64-1.06 ounces)

Sex Differences
Sexes similar, but females average paler and browner.

Cool Facts 

  • Juncos are the “snowbirds” of the middle latitudes. In the eastern United States, they appear in all but the most northern states only in the winter, and then retreat each spring. Some juncos in the Appalachian Mountains remain there all year round, breeding at the higher elevations. These residents have shorter wings than the migrants that join them each winter. Longer wings help the migrants fly long distances.  
  • The Dark-eyed Junco includes five forms that were once considered separate species. The “slate-colored junco” is the grayest, found from Alaska to Texas and eastward. The “Oregon junco” is boldly marked blackish and brown, with a distinct dark hood, and is found in the western half of the continent. The “gray-headed junco” has a brown back and gray sides and lives in the central Rocky Mountains. The “white-winged junco” is all gray with white wingbars, and breeds only near the Black Hills of South Dakota. The “Guadalupe junco” of Baja California is dull and brownish. Two other forms may be distinguishable: the “pink-sided junco,” a pale version of the Oregon junco, living in the northern Rocky Mountains, and the “red-backed junco,” a gray-headed junco with a dark upper bill, found in mountains near the Mexican border.  
  • The Dark-eyed Junco is a common bird at winter bird feeders across North America. Data from Project FeederWatch show that it is often the most common feeder bird in an area, and it is on the top-ten lists of all regions except the Southeast and South-Central (where it is 11th and 12th, respectively).

Visit Project FeederWatch for more information and to find out how you can become a citizen scientist and count the birds you your own backyard!

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