Are you really an Oregonian if you can’t recognize our variety of Dark-Eyed Junco?
Species: Dark-Eyed Junco, or Junco hyemalis
Family: Passerellidae (New World Sparrows)
Star sign: Gemini
Ideal Date: Makeover Montage
If you’ve lived in the United States for any period of time, you’ve almost certainly seen a flock of Dark-Eyed Juncos, a small, rotund songbird that likes to flit in flocks between the branches of bushes and trees. As one of the most common birds in the States, one would think that they’re easy for anyone to identify, but if you’re not from Oregon, you may be unable to recognize the friendly flocks that make their homes on Reed’s campus. That’s because the Dark-Eyed Junco’s coat pattern is dependent on its geographical location. While most bird species have the same coat patterns regardless of where they’re found, Dark-Eyed Juncos do not settle for such humdrum uniformity.
There are approximately fifteen recognized Dark-Eyed Junco subspecies. The rarest of the bunch are strictly region-locked, such as the “White-Winged” Dark-Eyed Junco, which is found in South Dakota’s Black Hills, and the “Gray-Headed” Dark-Eyed Junco, a native of the southern Rockies. Widespread in the eastern U.S. and Canada is the “Slate-Colored” Dark-Eyed Junco. Here in Oregon, as well as across the rest of the western U.S., you’ll find the aptly named “Oregon” Dark-Eyed Junco.
On Reed’s campus, these fashionable Oregonian friends are easy to spot once you know what to look for. They have black heads, brown backs, and pale underbellies, almost as if their small and fluffy bodies have been split into three, unicolor sections. Their bills are a pale pink, an attribute which they share with the rest of their species, and the sound of their chirp resembles that of a Star Wars blaster. They like to gather in flocks, in bushes, or on the ground where they forage for seeds. Keep an eye on shrubs and small trees adjacent to campus buildings, as these areas are prime feeding grounds for the birds. And if you do see one, make sure to admire how much thought he put into his outfit!