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• Dark-eyed Juncos are often called “Snowbirds,” possibly due to the fact that they are more likely to visit feeding stations during snowy periods. Many people also believe their return from their northern breeding grounds foretells the return of cold and snowy weather. Another possible source of the nickname may be the white belly plumage and slate-colored back of the Junco, which has been described as “leaden skies above, snow below.”
• According to Project Feeder Watch, Juncos are sighted at more feeding areas across North America than any other bird. Over 80% percent of those responding report Juncos at their feeders.
• Juncos spend the entire winter in flocks averaging in size from six to thirty or more birds. Each flock has a dominance hierarchy with adult males at the top, then juvenile males, adult females and young females at the bottom. You can often observe individuals challenging the status of others with aggressive displays of lunges and tail flicking.
• To avoid the competition, many females migrate farther south than most of the males. Up to 70% of Juncos wintering in the southern U.S. are females. Males tend to stay farther north in order to shorten their spring migration and thus gain the advantage of arriving first at prime breeding territories.
• Juncos, along with some other members of the sparrow family, practice an interesting foraging method called “riding.” They fly up to a seed cluster on the top of a grass stem and “ride” it to the ground where they pick off the seeds while standing on it.
• The longevity records for Juncos are: White-winged - 7.5 years; Dark-eyed -10 years, 9 months; Oregon – 9 years, 9 months; Gray-headed 10 years, 8 months.