Showing posts with label bird identification. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bird identification. Show all posts

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Review of Facts and Photos of the Dark Eyed Junco

Snow Bird
I think I must have gotten my love of birds from my Mother.  She loved to watch the birds in her yard and one of her favorites was a small grey bird with a white bottom that she called the "Snow Bird".  I have found this bird to be one of my favorites.  They are called Dark Eyed Junco's and it is particularly interesting to watch them hop around on the ground on a snowy day.

Identifying the Dark Eyed Junco

  • Slate Colored mostly grey with white belly
  • Medium Sized Sparrow
  • Round Head
  • Small pale bill
  • Prominent white outer tail feathers
There are other Junco's in North America whose coloring varies across the continent but all are a dark grey or brown and have white outer tail feathers the flash open in flight.  In the western US Junco's have a dark hood and a brown back. These are called the "Oregon Junco"

The Dark Eyed Junco that I show in this article are found throughout Canada and in the eastern US.  I live in eastern Missouri and they are plentiful in my backyard.

Feeding Behavior

These birds feed primarily by hopping around the base of trees and shrubs looking for fallen seeds.  In the spring and summer they will eat mainly insects.

In my back yard they usually are found beneath the feeders picking up seeds that have fallen when other birds have been at the feeders.  Here is a photo taken on a snowy morning when two Junco's decided to stop at a feeder.  The ground was covered with snow and there weren't any other birds around to knock food off the feeders so they had to go get their own.  Later in the day when more other types of birds were around they were again on the ground pecking away at fallen seeds.

Breeding Behavior

In order to court the females the males will fan and flicker their tail feather and hop up and down.  The males and females will make a nest together and they defend their territory together.  The male however is a bit fickle and is known to mate with several females.

The females usually have between 3-5 eggs at a time and they are incubated by the female for 12-13 days.  The baby birds are ready to leave their nest in 9-13 days.


Junco's are ground nesters and prefer to make their nest on the ground sheltered by either dense shrubs or rocks.  Their nest is an open cup made of fine twigs, rootlets and leaves.


  • Cornell Lab of Ornithology online
  • Backyard Guide to the Birds of North America by Jonathan Alderfer and Paul Hess

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Review of Facts on the Eurasian Tree Sparrow

Eurasian Tree Sparrow

Distinguishing Features

The Eurasian tree sparrow is similar to the house sparrow but with a few distinguishing features.  The most notable one is the black patch in the middle of a pure white cheek.  You can see that feature in the photo above.  These birds also have a rich chestnut colored crown and nape.  Both sexes are similar and the young birds are just a duller version of the adult birds.  

I had seen these birds in our yard for several years and did not realize they were different from the house sparrows until I took some photographs and started to study their features.  Since they are only in a limited region of the USA I did not find them in my pocket field guide to birds and had to do a bit more searching online to find more information. 

History in USA

Eurasian Tree Sparrows were first introduced in the USA when 20 birds were brought to St. Louis, Missouri from Germany.  It is said that these birds probably would have multiplied and spread except that the House Sparrow was introduced to the US at about the same time.  The House Sparrow is a tougher bird and kept the Eurasian Tree Sparrows from spreading.  Today you mostly find these birds around the St. Louis area, although you may find them in other parts of Missouri, Illinois and southern Iowa.  We live about 40 miles west of St. Louis and have quite a few of the birds in our yard year round.  They seem to stay in some of our low shrubs around our house.  They are frequent visitors at both our finch feeders and our wild bird feeders.  They also like to visit our birdbath.

More Information

If you would like to read more about these interesting birds, I would suggest the following link where I gathered much of my information. Audubon Field guide   At this site you can also listen to the calls of the birds.

Bird Guide

I find this bird guide to be  valuable tool for identifying birds in my backyard.  It did have a small blurb on Eurasian tree sparrow under the heading Old World Sparrows.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

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