What Does a Dark Eyed Junco Sound Like and Look Like?

Learn how to identify a dark eyed junco. See what the male and female juncos and nests look like and what a junco song sounds like.

 What Does a Dark Eyed Junco Look Like?

dark-eyed juncoCourtesy Andrew Grgurich

Scientific Name: Junco hyemalis
Family: Sparrow
Length: 6 inches
Wingspan: 9 inches
Markings: Coloration varies regionally. Common characteristics are dark eyes, pink beaks, white-edged tails and black, brown or gray hoods. The name “dark eyed junco” applies to several populations, each with slightly different coloring. The slate-colored is the only junco in the East. The Oregon subspecies is the most widespread in the West; others with smaller ranges are the pink-sided, white-winged, gray-headed and red-backed. If you live in the West or are visiting in winter, it’s worth your while to look in a field guide so you know what you might see.

Find out what do juncos eat and how to attract them.

Female and Juvenile Juncos

Dark-eyed Junco female in fall autumnStan Tekiela Author / Naturalist / Wildlife Photographer/Getty Images
Female junco in southern Minnesota

In most of the populations, female juncos are slightly lighter than the average male. Female slate-colored juncos, for instance, tend to be brown, while their male mates are closer to black. Juvenile juncos are often lighter and can be streaked.

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Dark Eyed Junco Nest and Eggs

Dark Eyed Junco (junco Hyemalis) Eggs In Nest Woven From GrassDesign Pics/David Ponton/Getty Images
Junco eggs in the nest

Although juncos nest mostly in Canada and parts of Alaska, there are some year-round residents in pockets of the Lower 48, including the Northeast, the Northwest and the California coast. The female constructs a cup-shaped nest on the ground using natural materials and then lays four to six pale, speckled eggs inside.

Junco vs chickadee: Here’s how to tell the difference.

Dark Eyed Junco Song

Listen to the dark eyed junco song. Their voice trills vary in pitch and tempo, from dry notes to tinkling sounds.

Bird songs provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Range Map and Habitat

Juncos are thriving! Our friends at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology estimate their total population to be more than 630 million. Look for juncos in evergreen or mixed forests in summer. In winter, they visit all kinds of woods, brushy places, farms, parks, and backyards.

Dark-eyed Junco Bird Species

Range maps provided by Kaufman Field Guides, the official field guide of Birds & Blooms.

Next, learn how to identify and attract a chipping sparrow and a white throated sparrow.

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Jill Staake
Jill lives in Tampa, Florida, and writes about gardening, butterflies, outdoor projects and birding. When she's not gardening, you'll find he reading, traveling and happily digging her toes into the sand on the beach.