Dark-Eyed Junco Name – Bird of Reeds

junco with two feet in the snow
Continuing with my discussion of bird names – these dark-eyed beauties called juncos showed up in my yard after our biggest snowstorm (9″ in New Jersey, perhaps). Funny thing about juncos is they wander around the ground, not hopping about in the branches. See, even in the snow they prefer exploring what’s down.

junco on his feet
On a site called Beauty of Birds, I learned this about the junco name:

The species’ Latin name “hyemalis” translates into “winter;” and the genus name, Junco, roughly means “bird of bushes or reeds” – referring to their preferred habitats.

On the Wikipedia article for Junco: “Despite having a name that appears to derive from the Spanish term for the plant genus Juncus (rushes), these birds are seldom found among rush plants, as these prefer wet ground, while juncos like dry soil.”

Well, my juncos seemed to be OK hopping along on top of the snow. They are sometimes called snowbirds, but I think that’s usually a reference for flying south, *away* from the snow.

junco on ground of snow
Some of the photos I took of the junco came out rather dark because the bird was down in the shadows. I might have changed the ISO to be a little higher on the one above, so it looks a little brighter.

junco by fence
On the Wikipedia article specifically for dark-eyed junco, it says they are related to the sparrow.

Not to confuse, but to give some contrast, here’s a photo of a tufted titmouse on our backyard tree when the tree was totally full of snow:
tufted titmouse in the snow

For more Nature Notes:
Nature Notes

17 thoughts on “Dark-Eyed Junco Name – Bird of Reeds

    • Good point – they were not wandering under the bird feeder (which I had filled with black oil sunflower seeds). Maybe they had had enough seeds and were hoping for something different? I see the Cornell site says: “At feeders they seem to prefer millet over sunflower seeds.” I’ll look for some millet next time I see seed.

  • The juncos come here when the snow is about to begin and stay all winter…if the ground has no snow, they are like vacuums eating all the seed they find on the ground…..and in the snow they eat the suet or seed that falls on the ground….they will leave soon as spring gets warmer and be back again when the snow is about to fly….love the meaning of their name.

    • A.K., like learning math, you have to work at it. Unlike math, no one makes you learn how to attract birds in school. But most of bird attraction work is just filling the bird feeder and waiting in the corner with your telephoto lens on your good camera (that part does take learning and $$$) until you get a good shot.

  • I do enjoy your bird images. These are no exception. I do need to get my camera out of the kitchen and into my garden to capture some images of the birds in my own area. 🙂

  • I enjoyed reading your data from the varied sources. Your photos are wonderful! Dark-Eyed Juncos are quite common around the bird feeders, here. They love walking and flitting on the soil in my backyard, trying to gather food that has somehow been carried by the wind, or fallen out of the bird feeders. They love the feeders, though, also. I see them on my walks by the river, too, but they fly away before I can photograph them.

    Yes, they are part of the sparrow family-a medium-sized one.

  • Cute little birds with a sweet call. They eat millet here. They prefer to find seed on the ground and rarely go to a feeder. Soon they will be back on their way back to Canada… Michelle

    • I found some millet in my pantry today (that has been there for too long). Maybe I’ll sprinkle it on the snow tomorrow and see if they go for it.

  • I first learned about Juncos when I moved from an apartment to a house in 1968. Funny how I can remember the year, but I can. Nice shots of these little guys.

  • You has asked about the millet. I don’t know what we kind humans eat as compared to the bird as I don’t cook with it. But the bird seed kind is white millet and juncos and mourning doves really like it. The juncos roll it and crack it open with their bills and the doves eat it whole.

    • I think my experiment may show that the millet in my pantry for human eating is different than the millet some birds prefer. Too bad, since the humans in my house are not eating the millet, either.

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