The Oregon Junco is a locally abundant genus of sparrow, also known as a dark-eyed junco, and is the only bird sporting the Oregon State Name (Junco hyemalis). Its range includes most of North America, but the range I’m writing about is in my own side yard.
I’d noticed a pair of juncos in the Frog Mitigation Area, where a fishless creek wends between two shallow ponds where frogs breed. The juncoes flirted in the nearby pear tree; shaking their white tail feathers.
They checked out the low cover plants that were supposed to accommodate the frogs. The juncos enjoyed ducking in and out of the bushes, and took advantage of the abundant water supplies for drinking and bathing. They also feed in the nearby garden.
I spotted the junco pair going under a fern next to a small heather, again and again. I parted the fern leaves and stole a look; there were several freshly hatched babies, eyes closed, nearly featherless, in a modest nest.
I retreated to 30 feet away,not wanting to spook the adult birds. I took pictures from there. I could see the mama bird and the babies moving in the shadows, maybe.
That’s the best nest picture I could manage, without intruding any closer. Juncos can have 1-3 broods a year, with 3-6 eggs per brood.
There is a tiny junco also hanging around. It is pestering the two grown up juncos with an open mouth, even though it is also feeding itself. I suspect it’s from a earlier nesting this year. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology says juncos switch to a bug diet when raising chicks, but these two are still bring seeds to the nest.
There are other junco mysteries worth investigating. At one time, bird scientists whittled down the number of junco species from 15 to 5. Or 3. Each species has different colorings. Wiki and Cornell have conflicting pictures of the Dark-eyed Oregon junco.
Here are a variety of Junco pictures to illustrate their markings.
Now it’s your turn.
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What have you noted in your area or travels? Any nesting birds in your yard? Please post your observations and general location in your comments. I’ll check back by lunchtime.