8 Cool Facts About Dark-Eyed Juncos

Discover fun facts about one of winter's favorite snowbirds: the dark-eyed junco! Learn how long juncos live and what kind of birdseed juncos like best.

dark-eyed juncoCourtesy Christine Fagerlie
Dark-eyed juncos are hardy little birds that thrive in the cold, only traveling south to the upper United States in the winter months.

Juncos Have a Cool Nickname

Dark-eyed juncos are nicknamed snowbirds, as they seem to bring snowy winter weather on their wings. In the colder months they travel in flocks of 15 to 25 from the evergreen forests to backyards all over the U.S.

Learn how birds get their names. (And our favorite bird nicknames).

Their Namesake is Endangered

Named for its natural habitat of Guadalupe Island, the Guadalupe junco is now endangered. Unique to Mexico, there may be fewer than 100 left in the world.

Discover 12 birds you can only see in one place on Earth.

One Bird Species Has Many Variations

The subspecies of dark-eyed juncos fall into five major groups: gray-headed, Oregon, pink-sided, slate-colored and white-winged.

Juncos Have a Long Lifespan

Banding records show that dark-eyed juncos can live to be 11 years old.

Next, can you guess how long hummingbirds live?

dark-eyed junco on the groundCourtesy John Cushing
A dark-eyed junco foraging in a snow-covered planter.

Look for Juncos on the Ground

Juncos make their home in woodland areas. Sure, they’ve got wings, but juncos prefer to hop around the forest floor, spending as much as 65% of their time on the ground. Discover the best way to attract birds that don’t visit bird feeders.

Cold Weather Doesn’t Influence Migration

Beginning in 1924, biologist William Rowan’s research on dark-eyed juncos revealed that these migratory birds respond more to changes in daylight than temperature.

Check out the top 5 birding hotspots for fall migration.

Juncos Puff Up in Winter

When it’s cold outside, juncos grow down jackets. Their coat of feathers is 30% heavier in winter than in summer.

Juncos Have a Favorite Birdseed

Attract juncos to your backyard ground feeders with millet. This small seed comes in two types, red and white.

Kirsten Schrader
Kirsten is the executive editor of Birds & Blooms. She's been with the brand in various roles since 2007. She has many favorite birds (it changes with the seasons), but top picks include the red-headed woodpecker, Baltimore oriole and rose-breasted grosbeak. Her bucket list bird is the painted bunting.