Sunday, February 12, 2017

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Juncos are common breeders across almost all of Canada and Alaska, also nesting in eastern and western mountains of the United States. They breed south to New England, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and through most of the Rocky Mountains. The species winters across the United States south to central Mexico. Another name for the species in Snowbird. Audubon wrote “there is not an individual in the Union who does not know the little Snow-bird” (in Nolan et al. 2002). The same might be said today.

Not surprisingly, with such a large range, juncos show much geographic variation Up until the 1970s, ornithologists recognized 5 species of what is now called the Dark-eyed Junco. Now these former species are lumped into a single species, with 15 subspecies. Several of these have been recorded in Minnesota. But the most common eastern form, which used to be named the Slate-colored Junco, is the most abundant here. This form is what Erika and I photographed last week in the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

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