Dark-eyed juncos are part of the sparrow family of birds, there are many subspecies of this little bird. They all have distinct white outer tail feathers. When the weather is cooler, I see two of the subspecies in my yard, the Gray-headed and the Oregon junco, here in northern Arizona. They can be found in coniferous or mixed-coniferous forests, in elevations from sea level up to 11,000 feet. They are ground feeders and typically hop in the ground pecking or scratching at leaf litter or flitting very low in underbrush seeking food from twigs and leaves. Dark-eyed juncos eat primarily seeds. They will also eat insects during breeding seasons.
The gray-headed are not only in my backyard in the fall, winter, and spring, I also see them in the ponderosa pine forest behind my house all summer long. They have a rufous patch on their back and the rest of their color is gray. They hop around on the ground looking for food, they hang from a suet feeder eating, or flit around the trees looking for seeds.
The Oregon junco is considered the most widespread of the juncos. They have rusty-brown backs, a black “hood”, and rusty sides. I generally see them in my yard in the late fall, winter and very early spring. They hop around on the ground looking for seeds or I have seen them hanging from a suet feeder eating the dense food.
These birds are only about five to seven inches long. They are found in many regions of North America. Other sub species include the pink-sided, slate-colored, and white-winged. The pink-sided can be found in the interior Western states. The slate-colored predominately in the Appalachains and Canada, while the white-winged can be found in the Black Hills area.