BOM : Dark-eyed Junco
Scientific name : Junco hyemalis
How to identify: The Dark-eyed Junco is a medium-sized sparrow with a rounded head, a short, stout bill and a fairly long, conspicuous tail. Juncos vary across the country, but in general they're dark gray or brown birds brightened up by a pink bill and white outer tail feathers that periodically flash open, particularly in flight.
Habitat: Dark-eyed Juncos breed in coniferous or mixed-coniferous forests across Canada, the western U.S., and in the Appalachians. During winter you'll find them in open woodlands, fields, parks, roadsides, and backyards.
Where to find one: Dark-eyed Juncos are birds of the ground. They hop around the bases of trees and shrubs in forests or venture out onto lawns looking for fallen seeds. You'll often hear their high chip notes, given almost absent-mindedly while foraging, or intensifying as they take short, low flights through cover.
How to attract one to your yard: Dark-eyed Juncos are primarily seed-eaters, with seeds of chickweed, buckwheat, sorrel, and the like making up about 75% of their year-round diet. At feeders they seem to prefer millet over sunflower seeds. During the breeding season, Dark-eyed Juncos also eat insects including beetles, moths, butterflies, caterpillars, ants, wasps, and flies.
Interesting fact: The Dark-eyed Junco is one of the most common birds in North America and can be found across the continent, from Alaska to Mexico, from California to New York. A recent estimate set the junco's total population at approximately 630 million individuals
For more information on Dark-eyed Juncos, visit one of the three Moana Nursery store locations: 1100 W. Moana Ln. & 11301 S. Virginia St., Reno and 7644 Pyramid Hwy., Sparks.
Carmel Ruiz-Hilton is Manager of Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shops at Moana Nursery in Reno/Sparks