Spring Dark-eyed Junco Small In The Frame

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Dark-eyed Junco in early springDark-eyed Junco in early spring – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/2500, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Yesterday morning I spotted three Short-eared Owls not long after the sun had risen but was unable to take a single photo of them because they flew before I could lock on or once even raise my lens. I was excited though to find a few Short-eared Owls. I also found several Golden Eagles, Bald Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks, Northern Harriers, some lingering Rough-legged Hawks and plenty of Western Meadowlarks. There were many smaller birds that flew so fast I was unable to ID them.

I saw and heard Dark-eyed Juncos and that always delights me, their soft calls soothe me. Dark-eyed Juncos are year round residents in northern Utah but usually during the breeding season I only see them in the mountains at higher elevations. I bet the juncos I saw yesterday will soon be heading to the mountains.

I was only able to photograph one of the Dark-eyed Juncos I saw yesterday because it was the only one that stayed still long enough for me to raise my lens, focus and fire my shutter button, the rest were way too skittish. Even though this junco was further away than I would normally want I liked the setting, the eye contact I had with the bird and how the buds on the tree look like they will burst open very soon.

Life is good.


A few Dark-eyed Junco facts:

  • Dark-eyed Juncos are medium sized sparrows that always have stout, pink bills, rounded heads and white outer edges to their tails. Geographically they have color variation. Mostly Dark-eyed Juncos are gray or brown, some have rufous and pink colors in addition to the grays and browns.
  • Dark-eyed Juncos are migratory. Some are year round residents in their range but will move to lower elevations during the winter and then move higher during the breeding season.
  • Dark-eyed Juncos prefer forests of conifers and mixed woods from sea level to elevations of more than 11,000 feet during their breeding season. During the nonbreeding season they frequent fields, parks, roadsides, and yards and gardens.
  • Dark-eyed Juncos eat small insects, berries, fruits and seeds.
  • Dark-eyed Juncos lay 3 to 6 eggs which hatch in 11 to 13 days. The female incubates and they are monogamous.
  • A group of sparrows can be called a “flutter”, “ubiquity”, “crew” or a “quarrel” of sparrows.
  • Dark-eyed Juncos are often called “snow birds”.
  • Dark-eyed Juncos can live to be more than 11 years of age.


  1. David Schoen March 30, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    Nicely composed environmental image with really good detail. Between late November and the present time, the Dark Eyed Juncos have been the main species that I see each day around my house in Washington state. There are probably 20 or more that hang out here, five or six at a time. My home is extremely close to Henderson Inlet (part of Puget Sound) and a large wet-in-winter wooded area. Other species I see on a regular basis throughout the winter are Song Sparrows, Spotted Towhees, Anna’s Hummingbirds, and a pair of Downy Woodpeckers. The spring migration has yet to start here.

  2. Elephants Child March 30, 2018 at 12:32 pm

    Bud-burst does indeed look close.
    And love the look of this small bird. Yet more feathered enchantment.

  3. Patty Chadwick March 30, 2018 at 8:25 am

    Love the monchrome effect…juncos (slate-colored juncos here) are ground-feeding Winter visitors here.

  4. Mary March 30, 2018 at 7:48 am

    Junco as fine art!

  5. Marebear March 30, 2018 at 7:47 am

    Junco as fine art!

  6. Bob mcpherson March 30, 2018 at 7:35 am


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