"A Junco!" I exclaimed as I notices the small grey/black bird hopping about under the suet feeder. I've been trying to pain one for years but their grey and black coloring is really tough to paint. Eastern juncos (Junco hyemalis) are small, sparrow-like birds that are native to North America. They are most commonly found in the eastern United States, although their range extends as far west as the Rocky Mountains. During the winter months, eastern juncos migrate south to escape the cold and search for food. We see them often at our feeders in the winter but never in the summer as they've migrated back north. In the winter, they can often be found in large flocks in open areas such as fields and gardens.
Eastern juncos are known for their distinctive appearance, with a gray head, white breast, and slate-colored back. They have a short, conical bill and a rounded tail, and they are usually about six inches in length. They are found in forests, wooded swamps, and gardens. They are most commonly associated with deciduous or mixed forests, where they can find a variety of seeds, insects, and berries to eat. Eastern juncos are active foragers, often scratching at the ground to uncover food. They are also known for their attractive, melodic songs, which they use to communicate with each other and defend their territories.
Eastern juncos are especially fond of bird feeders, and they are a common sight at backyard feeders during the winter. They are socially monogamous, meaning that they form pair bonds with a single mate during the breeding season. Eastern juncos are a popular species for birdwatchers, and they are often considered a "yard bird" because of their presence at backyard feeders during the winter. They do seem to prefer the cracked corn, unshelled sunflowers and some millet seeds as well.