Dark-eyed Junco Babies Galore

Jul 12, 2017 | Garden Critters | 0 comments

This morning I stepped out to turn on a sprinkler and noticed a Dark-eyed Junco casually hop through the water pouring down on its head duck and under a rotting railroad tie. It entered with a bug in its mouth and left without it. I took a peek and found this little guy.

Baby Dark-eyed Junco

I’m pretty sure he thought the camera was going to eat him.

The poor thing was a bit damp. I adjusted the sprinkler then ran and grabbed the camera to take a few photos. After I left, mama (or papa) dutifully returned with another fat bug for the next feeding.

We’ve had a bumper crop of Juncos this year, and I believe they’ve mostly been spawned from a nest built on top of our electric meter. I’m not sure that’s so great for our meter, but I haven’t had the heart to remove it because the nest has been in constant use since April.

Dark-eyed Junco Nest

I’m pretty sure this is not to code.

Anyhow, I went to take a photo of this nest, and lo and behold, I found 2 more babies on the ground below it! I don’t know if they are siblings of railroad-tie baby, but likely not since they are about 50 feet away from each other.

There’s also another baby about 3 feet from this nest that I discovered a few days ago – I haven’t actually seen that one because it’s super well-hidden underneath our deck stairs. I can hear it chirping though, and have seen an adult Junco ducking under the deck boards to feed it.

Juvenile Dark-eye Juncos

These babies are well-camouflaged. They’re nearly the same color as the ground and are hidden behind a woodpile.

Dark-eyed Junco feeding its offspring

Lunch time!

There are a few races of Dark-eyed Juncos in the Pacific Northwest, and the ones we mostly see are the “Oregon” variety. Our feeder is a popular hangout, but I also see them gleaning insects from trees, shrubs and groundcover. They seem to be feeding their fledgling young exclusively on insects, although they may be feeding digested bits too.

Dark-eyed Junco, "Oregon" Male

Junco taking a breather in the sun after feeding the kid.

Junco dad bringing tasty treats.

I’ve tried to photograph one of the older juveniles that fledged earlier in the season, but haven’t had much luck. They aren’t very predictable when they don’t have a nest full of babies to come back to! Hopefully, I’ll be able to get a good shot of one before they’ve acquired their adult plumage. If not the then maybe I’ll get an opportunity with this round of babies in August .


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