Fun Junco Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
May 10, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Smriti Chaudhary
Bird enthusiasts love to read Junco facts.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.2 Min

Are you fond of learning more about birds? If yes, then you should know about juncos, one of the most commonly found North American birds.

One of the most common juncos is the dark-eyed junco bird, seen mainly across much of Oregon, and other parts of the U.S., having a wide range from California to New York. These are ground feeders; hence the birds prefer a habitat with weeded ground cover or forests.

Most of the subspecies, including the dark-eyed junco, are known for their notable gray or slate plumage covered with white outer tail feathers. The adult male dark-eyed junco is slightly larger than the females.

Even though the dark-eyed junco is common, many other subspecies of the junco are found across North America. The dark-eyed junco and other subspecies are migratory.

Keep on reading to learn more junco facts. Also, check out the articles on the Hawaiian hawk and the sparrowhawk.

Junco Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a junco?

Junco is a small bird that belongs to the group of New World sparrows.

What class of animal does a junco belong to?

Junco birds belong to the class Aves and the family Passerellidae.

How many juncos are there in the world?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, about 260,000,000 adult dark-eyed junco birds are living on Earth. However, one of the subspecies, the Guadalupe junco, has the smallest population with only 75-249 adult birds, and the population is only extant on a small island on the western coast of Mexico.

Where does a junco live?

Juncos are considered Nearctic or North American birds. However, certain populations are also found as far as Mexico.

The breeding area of juncos includes Alaska, Yukon, and Newfoundland. In the U.S., the junco bird is found in California, Arizona, New England, New York, and Georgia. During the winter months, the species can be seen closer to Alaska, coastal British Columbia, and in the southern half of Canada, or Mexico and the eastern United States.

What is a junco's habitat?

Juncos live in different areas of North America. These birds live in areas that have an elevation of up to 11,482.9 ft (3,500 m). Juncos spend most of their time on the ground, especially in areas that are well-covered with vegetation.

Its habitat range includes coniferous forests, deciduous forests, woodland clearings, and open woodlands. During winter, the birds prefer fields that are covered with weeds. The dark-eyed juncos, as well as other species, are also often seen in urban areas.

Who does Junco live with?

Juncos are social birds and often live in flocks. The dark-eyed junco is especially known for living in large flocks. Winter flocks can have 15-25 juncos.

How long does a junco live?

The average lifespan of the dark-eyed junco is up to 11 years.

How do they reproduce?

Most adult juncos have a similar reproduction pattern, and it depends on their North American geological position. The mating takes place during spring and early summer. The nest is built by the adult females in just a week.

The nest is usually on a tree higher than 8 ft. Adult dark-eyed juncos lay three to six eggs, and the incubation period is 12-13 days. The chicks fledge from the nest in just 13 days. The dark-eyed junco becomes sexually mature in one year.

Both adult males and females take care of the nest. Adult birds feed the chick seeds. An adult dark-eyed junco doesn't reuse its nest.

What is their conservation status?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, most subspecies of juncos, including the dark-eyed junco, fall under the category of Least Concern. However, the Guadalupe Junco is classified as Endangered.

Junco Fun Facts

What does a junco look like?

A Junco on the branch of a tree covered in some snow.

Juncos are small birds that have a similar look to that of other sparrows. Most people have seen slate-colored or gray-headed juncos.

One of the major subspecies of junco birds is the dark-eyed junco which has a contrasting plumage of gray and white. The upper side and the wings are covered with dark gray or brown feathers, while the underside and the tail have more distinct white or pale slate-colored feathers.

The white outer tail feathers are often seen while in flight. The young birds often have streaked bellies compared to an adult.

The white-winged species has wings that are slate-colored or distinctly white. The red-backed and pink-sided juncos are especially known for having feathers that have a rusty or pinkish-cinnamon sheen to them.

How cute are they?

Juncos look adorable, especially because of their color variations. The gray-headed, white-winged, pink-sided, and red-backed juncos might fall under the same group, but the slight color variations make the birds extremely appealing. Often the full-color range of the bird's body is only visible during its flight.

How do they communicate?

Songs are quite important for juncos, especially for communication. All subspecies of juncos can produce different variations in calls. However, only the male of the dark-eyed juncos can sing. Juncos also use an explosive call for alarming other birds. Calls are mainly used for proclaiming territory, and the male also uses them to woo mates.

How big is a junco?

According to Cornell University, the average length range of juncos is 4.9-6.5 in (12.5-16.5 cm). The male juncos tend to be larger than the females, but only slightly. The dark-eyed junco birds are similar in size to the song sparrow, which has a size range of 4.7-6.7 in (12-17 cm).

How fast can a junco fly?

Juncos spend most of their time on the ground rather than in flight. The speed of a junco is similar to that of a sparrow, which is 28 mph (46 kph).

How much does a junco weigh?

The average weight range of the junco bird species is 0.6-1 oz (18-30 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The adult male and female birds of the species have no distinct names.

What would you call a baby junco?

A baby junco is called a chick.

What do they eat?

The juncos have an omnivorous diet. These birds mainly feed on seeds and insects that are found on the ground. During the breeding season, these birds mainly feed on insects. Dark-eyed juncos have a unique way of feeding where they ride a grass stem before starting to feed on seeds found on the ground of forests or fields.

Are they dangerous?

Not really! As a small sparrow-sized bird, it is most unlikely for a junco to be dangerous. However, aggressive or territorial behavior is seen in the dark-eyed juncos, especially during the large winter flocks.

Would they make a good pet?

No, juncos are a species of wild birds found mainly in the Nearctic region. Hence, the dark-eyed junco birds will most likely fail to survive in your home environment. Also, some subspecies of the junco are endangered, making it illegal to keep as pets.

Did you know...

There are some major and minor divisions for the juncos. However, the major sub-species include the dark-eyed junco, the Guadalupe junco, the yellow-eyed junco, Baird's junco, and the volcano junco. The dark-eyed juncos are further categorized into slate-colored, white-winged, Oregon or brown-backed, pink-sided, gray-headed, and red-backed groups.

The white-winged juncos are endemic to the Black Hill areas, spanning South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana.

Juncos roost or sleep in conifer trees and evergreen trees in urban areas. Dark-eyed juncos don't use birdhouses as they prefer the ground. You can put seeds out to attract these ground feeders.

Where do Juncos go in summer?

During the summertime, juncos usually go toward their breeding grounds. Adult dark-eyed juncos often migrate to colder areas rather than moving to warmer places.

Why are Juncos called Juncos?

The word junco is the Spanish word for a rush, and it comes from the Latin word 'juncus'.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including the Nicobar pigeon and the fox sparrow.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our free printable junco coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Smriti Chaudhary

Bachelor of Technology specializing in Information Technology

Smriti Chaudhary picture

Smriti ChaudharyBachelor of Technology specializing in Information Technology

Smriti, a student data scientist, and coder, is pursuing her Bachelor of Technology at K.J. Somaiya College of Engineering. She has achieved top rankings in the International English Olympiad, National Spelling Bee, and PSAT/SAT English Section. She is experienced in content creation and editing for various academic institutions.

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