Birds of Seabrook Island

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  Dark-eyed Junco
 
 

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Carolina Junco
 
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  Order Passeriformes
   Suborder Passeres - Oscines (Song Birds)
      Parvorder Passerida (Superfamily Passeroidea)
         Nine-primaried Oscines
            Family Emberizidae - New World Sparrows, Towhees, Juncos

  Passerines are generally smaller than non-passerines. They have a perching foot with three toes directed forward and the one backward with locking tendons to facilitate perching when their tendons are flexed. All passerines scratch by bringing the foot over the wing. Incubation ranges from 11 -21 days. Young hatch blind with little or no down and spend 10-15 days or so in the nest - development is rapid and parents provide care beyond fledging.
Oscines are passerines with complex syringeal musculature used to produce varied vocalizations. 
Passeroids include the Nine-primaried Oscines, pipits, Old World sparrows, and weavers.
Nine-primaried Oscines include New World warblers, icterids (New World blackbirds), emberizines (buntings), tanagers, cardinalines (cardinals), and fringillines (finches).
Emberizines are primarily New World seed-eaters with a conical bill and dull, streaked plumage. They belong to our nine-primaried assemblage of families. When they forage on the ground, they are able to scratch using both legs at once ("hopping" to clear leaves or debris to reach food). They have loud songs that aid in their location and identification.
Juncos - Junco. There are two species of junco found in North America - Dark-eyed and Yellow-eyed, Junco hyemalis and J.phaeonotus. The former ranges widely across North America, breeding in the Canadian taiga and western mountains and wintering in the rest of the country. The latter is found in the central mountains of Mexico and southeastern Arizona. Juncos have white outer tail feathers which they flash as they feed. They are probably signals to flying conspecifics that individuals are present and feeding. In winter, juncos regularly feed in flocks - sometimes mixed with American Tree Sparrows or other emberizines.
   There are a number of recognizable populations of the Dark-eyed Junco, some formerly recognized as separate species. The eastern race is often known as Slate-colored Junco. In the west, the Oregon Junco, a dark-headed form, breeds along the Pacific coast in Washington and British Columbia, the Pink-sided Junco breeds in Montana and Wyoming, The White-winged Junco is found in the southern Rocky Mountains (New Mexico to Wyoming). The Gray-headed Junco is found in Colorado, Utah, and northern New Mexico, and the Red-backed Junco is found in southern New Mexico and central Arizona.
   In my western travels I've managed to see representatives of all of these populations.
   See your field guide. It is possible to see individuals outside their normal range - we regularly picked up Oregon Juncos in New England  and Pennsylvania in winter.
 
Carolina Junco
 
     
  Dark-eyed Junco, Junco hyemalis
 
   Cornell     USGS     Wiki     EoL
        WINTER - Uncommon / Rare
            CONIFEROUS WOODS, BRUSHY CLEARINGS, EDGE, SUBURBS (winter)
MORE PICTURES
 
   Dark-eyed Juncos are all pale gray with weak wing bars, a white belly, and conspicuous white outer tail feathers that are flicked while they feed feeding. Their bill is often pinkish. The "Slate-colored Junco" is all dark with weak wing bars. They have a brown iris.
   When seen from above, the white edges of the fanned tail are quite obvious. This is probably a signal that tends to promote socialization in the species (in the American Tree Sparrow, vocal contact notes serve the same function)...
Junco
     
Dark-eyed Junco. Clemson
   
  RANGE: Dark-eyed Juncos are widespread breeders across Canada and the mountains and Great Basin in western parts of the country. They breed from our mountains ("Carolina" Junco), north to Labrador, across central Quebec to Hudson Bay and north to Northwest Territories and most of Alaska, moving south along the Pacific coast to California and inland to New Mexico. To the east they breed from central Saskatchewan to the northern Great Lakes. The species essentially has boreal populations (slate-colored) and a variety of populations in the Rocky Mountains and Great Basin. In winter, juncos retreat from the northern areas of Canada and move south to our coast, northern Florida, the Gulf coast, and into northern Mexico. 
  BREEDING: Monogamous. Two (3?) broods. Juncos build a nest in a shallow depression with some overhead cover or (rarely) in a shrub or tree. They use grass, moss, rootlets, and twigs and line it with fine materials. Females lay 3-5 (6) eggs which she incubates for 12-13 days. Young are altricial. They fledge after 9-13 days and both sexes take care of them.
  DIET: They eat insects, spiders, and a variety of insects. They also eat seeds and some berries. Young are fed regurgitated insects at first. They forage by running and hopping. They will scratch in leaves or snow for buried food and they come to feeders but tend to stay on the ground.
  VOICE: Their song is a one-note trill that is somewhat slower than the song of a Chipping Sparrow and stronger than the song of Pine Warblers. It is not usually heard in winter. In winter, juncos often form feeding flocks or some numbers although they are usually solitary on Seabrook... They utter high, tinkling chips when flushed - these are probably social contact notes.
  NOTES:
   Checklists -
      Seabrook. Kiawah - occasionaln winter.
      Coastal - common winter visitor. Hilton Head - fairly common winter visitor. Cape Romain - abundant fall and winter.
         Huntington Beach
- common October - April
      Caw Caw - rare/absent/rare/ uncommon. ACE - uncommon fall and winter.
   CBC: ACE 14, 71, 18, 40, 5, 17, 3, 6; Charleston 26, 8, 1, 12, 6, 8, 8, 19;
            St Helena/Fripp x, x, x, x, x, x, 0, 12; Hilton Head 3, 4, 6, 44, 3, 5, 3, 44; Sun City/Okatie 9, 15, 5, 28, 17, 32, 4, 10;
            McClellanville 51, 34, 8, 1, nc, 93, 82, 0; Winyah Bay x, x, 0, 19, 10, 0, 21, 7; Litchfield/Pawley's 89, 45, 115, 32, 124, 26, 122, 45.
   SCBBA: Mountains (Oconee, Pickens, Greenville Counties).
   P&G: Fairly common winter visitor. 4 October - 4 May.
   Avendex: 2 reports. April, June.
   Potter: Abundant winter resident, early October to mid-April. Members of the Carolina race breed at elevations of 3,000' or higher in our mountains (below).
  ●  Rare. Juncos should be around feeders in winter. You might hear them sing toward spring but their song is very similar to that of Pine Warblers and Chipping Sparrows... I get the impression there are fewer juncos near the coast than inland.
   
   

Carolina Junco, J. h. carolinensis

   As part of our studies of migration, I had a graduate student (Steve Calver) who captured juncos ("Carolina Juncos") from the southern Appalachians. They are slightly larger than the traditional Slate-colored form and are supposedly permanent residents (they may move to lower elevations in winter but they don't move latitudinally). Steve compared various features of their annual cycle with those of latitudinal migrants and found some differences  - the mountain population did not show large periods of fat deposition associated with migration and their nocturnal activity was less and differed temporally. This work still needs to be published.
       
    Banner - Oregon and pink-sided forms of the Dark-eyed Junco. Estes Park, CO.
       
       
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