Why they are called Dark-eyed Juncos

Certain birds like to spend only the winters with us in mid-Michigan. The Dark-eyed Junco is one of those birds. The long breaks in-between visits sometimes makes it difficult to remember a birds' name when they return. One customer had the name on the tip of his tongue, but could only think "one-eyed junco". It made me think of a jaunty bird with an eye patch. Most people just call the juncos, “snowbirds”, because we usually see them after it snows.

In 1758 the bird was described by Linnaeus in his Systema naturae as Fringilla hyemalis which translates to black 'finch' with white belly. This was based on natural historian Mark Catesby's description. A short summary is as follows:
The Bill of this Bird is white: The Breast and Belly white. All the rest of the Body black; but in some places dusky, inclining to Lead-color. In Summer none are seen. Whether they retire and breed in the North (which is most probable) or where they go, is to me unknown.
The Dark-eyed Junco is an American sparrow that we see in the grasses only in the winter. The modern scientific name Junco hyemalis translates to Junco = Spanish for rush (plants that may superficially resemble grasses) and hyemalis = of the winter.

There are a few subspecies of Dark-eyed Juncos. These subspecies look a little bit different from each other, but they often breed together. Some of the subspecies of Dark-eyed Juncos are the "Slate-colored" Junco, the "White-winged" Junco, Oregon Junco, and the "Gray-headed" Junco.

Source: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark-eyed_junco

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