The Dark-eyed Junco

October 28, 2013

The Dark-eyed Junco is a very common winter visitor to our area; the first appearance is usually in mid-October when these “snowbirds” arrive reminding us that winter is fast approaching. The Junco is a member of the sparrow family and at one point it was thought to be five different species!

The species we see here in the east is the “slate-colored” subspecies. It is a very common bird at Mount Auburn – sometimes one can see up to 100 individuals foraging on the ground in flocks and mingling with other sparrow species. The juncos scratch for food, usually hopping from place to place. They are very social and often quite tame though if startled flocks will explode into the air.

Flocks can be found anywhere in the Cemetery, generally moving as a group as they cover a wide area each day. When the first snow falls, juncos can be seen scratching – hopping forward and then back with both feet at once moving the snow and hoping for that buried seed. You can also find them foraging on the ground under the shrubbery – seeking safety from raptors flying above.

The Dark-eyed Junco will return to its breeding grounds in April. Check the Bird Sightings board in the Entrance Gate area for recent sightings!

About the Author: Bob Stymeist

Bob Stymeist is Bird Observer's Bird Sightings Compiler and a regular bird walk leader for the Friends of Mount Auburn. View all posts by Bob Stymeist →

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