Dark-eyed Juncos

Singing Dark-eyed Junco
Singing Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)

The Dark-eyed Juncos that have been spending the winter in our neighborhood seem to have started their dispersal. Over the last couple of winters I have observed fairly large flocks of juncos spending time in the neighborhood. They show up in the fall and make the rounds of the neighborhood. I am uncertain how far they range, but they do seem to mostly stick together in flocks. Throughout the fall and winter, there seems to be little aggression between the birds, but as the days get longer in late winter, I have noticed them getting more aggressive with each other (it’s probably just the males, though I did not notice specifically). By March they are starting to practice their trilling song. I say practice because the song seems to be shorter than what I hear later in the spring when they are nesting. As spring gets going, they disperse back to their preferred nesting areas. I typically observe pairs of them around clearings (muskegs and beach meadows) at low and mid-elevations (I cannot recall whether I have seen them at higher elevations or not). It may be that they also nest in forested and/or brushy areas, but it is more difficult to observe them in such situations. I am uncertain whether the birds that winter in our neighborhood stay in the general area or go further north with the birds nesting in this area wintering further south.

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