South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Dark-eyed Junco

Junco hyemalis

Length: 5.5 to 6.5 inches Wingspan: 9 to 10 inches Seasonality: Winter / All Seasons
ID Keys: Dependent upon race.  See photos at bottom of page of several different races.

Dark-eyed Junco - Junco hyemalisOnce considered five separate species, the five races of Juncos are now grouped into one species.  The five races tend to summer in different locations, but multiple races can be found together in winter.  The photo on the right is of the white-winged race.  The white-winged race is a South Dakota specialty, nesting only in the Black Hills.  They are similar to the slate-colored junco, except have white wing bars, more extensive white on the tail, and average 10-15% larger than other junco races.

Habitat: Conifer and mixed woods in breeding, Open woods, brush, undergrowth, and residential areas in winter.

Diet: Mostly seeds and insects.  Summer diet is evenly split between insects and seeds, while winter diets are primarily seeds of weeds and grasses.  

Behavior: Primarily forages hopping or walking along the ground.  Even when they come to feeders, they typically will feed on fallen seed below a feeder, or on tray feeders set on the ground.

Nesting: White-Winged race nests in the Black Hills, other races only winter in the state.

Song: Dark-eyed Junco Song, also Dark-eyed Junco Call

Migration: Most races summer in Canada or in the Mountain West.  The white-winged race can be found in all seasons in the Black Hills, while the other races are only found here in the winter.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Dark-eyed Junco sightings

Bird Feeders: Seeds, nuts and breadcrumbs.

Similar Species: Generally distinctive, except for the Yellow-eyed Junco, a species found in higher elevations of the far southwestern United States.

Conservation Status: Very common and widespread.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Dark-eyed Junco

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Dark-eyed Junco"

3) University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web - Dark-eyed Junco

Photo Information: May 30th, 2004 -- Near Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park -- Terry Sohl 

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Dark-eyed Junco photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Dark-eyed Junco - North American Range Map
South Dakota Status: Common migrant and winter resident throughout the state.  Common summer resident in the Black Hills.