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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Dark-eyed Junco -- Junco hyemalis

RANGE: Breeds from Alaska and central Yukon to Labrador and Newfoundland, south to central coastal California, in the mountains to eastern California, central Arizona, and western Texas, southern Alberta, northern and east-central Minnesota, central Michigan, southern New England, and in the Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia and northwestern South Carolina; also in the Black Hills. Winters from central and south coastal Alaska, coastal British Columbia and across southern Canada south to Mexico, the Gulf Coast, and northern Florida.

STATUS: Common to abundant.

HABITAT: Occurs from sea level to timberline in a variety of wooded habitats that have openings with dense herbaceous ground cover, including coniferous and deciduous forests, forest edges, woodland clearings, stream borders, open woodlands, brushy cover bordering mountain meadows, and old burns. Avoids deep forest interiors in favor of woodland edges and openings. In winter, prefers weedy fields but also inhabits open woodlands, hedgerows, suburbs, and farmyards.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Openings in wooded habitats covered with dense herbaceous vegetation such as grasses or forbs.

NEST: Commonly builds nest on the ground near the edge of openings in wooded areas or in a slight depression, usually well concealed under weeds, grasses, fallen logs, tree roots, or other overhead shelter. Occasionally may place nest up to 8 feet above ground in a shrub or tree.

FOOD: Forages on the ground, picking up seeds (mostly) and insects.

REFERENCES: Barrowclogh in Farrand 1983c, Beal and McAtee 1912, DeGraff et al. 1980, Eaton in Bent 1968b, Hostetter 1961, Martin et al. 1951, Phelps in Bent 1968b, Sprunt in Bent 1968b, Thatcher in Bent 1968b, Whitney in Bent 1968b.

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