Black-eyed rush eggs
fledgling and parental care
Black Eyed Junco Nest FAQs
During the winter months, black-eyed rushes appear in backyards across the United States and can often be seen hopping under feeders and on the edges of shrubs and hedges in search of seeds.
But where do they nest during breeding season? What kind of habitat do they seek out when raising their offspring? Read on to learn more.
Nesting black-eyed rushes seek out low-lying sites, shaded by overhanging vegetation, or entangled in tree roots or dense bushes. The female builds a cup-shaped nest out of twigs and moss, and may attempt to hatch up to three broods a year.
Typically 4 to 5 eggs are laid, which the female hatches after 12 to 13 days alone. Young black-eyed rushes grow fairly quickly and are ready to leave the nest before they are two weeks old.
For more information on site selection, nest building, and whether black-eyed rushes use nest boxes, read our comprehensive guide to black-eyed rush nesting.
Male Dark-eyed Junco with nesting material in mouth
Where do Dark-eyed Juncos nest?
Black-eyed rushes usually nest at or near the ground, and have their favorite nests in crevices, crevices in sloping rock faces, under fallen tree trunks, or where they are obscured by tangled roots.
Sheltered spots are preferred, including sites covered by dense vegetation or elevated tree branches.
Sometimes black-eyed rushes may make a home in unnatural spaces, such as tucked away in hanging baskets or among potted plants in the backyard.
Do Dark-eyed Juncos nest in the same place every year?
Even if they have identified the perfect nesting site, black-eyed rushes will not reuse a previous nest. Nests built close to the ground are unlikely to survive in decent enough condition to be reused for subsequent broods in the same year or in future seasons.
Do Dark-eyed Juncos nest in backyards?
If you live in the black-eyed rush’s breeding range — which spans much of central and southern Canada, and much of the northwestern United States — and you have lush ground cover in your backyard, then it’s possible The emergence of a breeding pair of rushes gives the option to establish a territory there.
As ground nesters, black-eyed rushes prefer places where they won’t be disturbed by humans or their pets, so if your yard is a high-traffic area, it’s less likely to attract nesting rushes.
Black-eyed Junco chicks in the ground nest
Do Dark-eyed Juncos use nest boxes?
Black-eyed rushes may nest in artificial structures such as pots and hanging baskets, but never use nest boxes.
What tree do black-eyed rushes nest in?
Nests of black-eyed rushes are usually on or near the ground, built among tangled roots or shaded by fallen tree trunks. Nesting in the branches of living trees is highly unusual, but not entirely undocumented, reaching a height of up to 2.4 m (8 ft) above the ground.
How tall is Dark-eyed Junco’s nest?
Nesting sites of choice for black-eyed rushes are usually on or near the ground, among the roots of trees, or hidden out of sight in bushes.
It is uncommon to build nests fairly high off the ground, although hanging baskets or potting containers can occasionally be used.
A black-eyed rosefinch nest with four unhatched eggs on the ground, Santa Clara County, California, USA
What does a Dark-eyed Junco’s nest look like?
Black-eyed rush nests vary depending on their surroundings. Nests built directly on the ground may usually be shallow foliage foundations lined with a fine layer of mammalian fur, ferns, and fine grasses.
An off-the-ground nest in a tree root or bush consists of a plant platform topped by a thicker cup-shaped shell of twigs and moss, and finally a soft lining of rootlets, fur and grass.
How big is Dark-eyed Junco’s lair?
Cup nests of black-eyed rushes are 7.6 to 14 cm (3 to 5.5 inches) wide, 6.1 to 6.6 cm (2.4 to 2.8 inches) inside diameter, and 4.1 to 7.1 cm (1.6 to 2.8 inches) deep.
Dark-eyed Junco nests vary in appearance depending on whether they are built on the ground or in bushes and tree roots
What time of year do Dark-eyed Juncos nest?
The nesting period for black-eyed rushes can begin as early as March. Eggs are laid about 10 days after nesting begins, and if a third hatch is attempted, the breeding season can last until August.
How long do Dark-eyed Juncos nest?
Hatching of black-eyed rush eggs lasts an average of 12 to 13 days. After hatching, the nesting period continues for another 9 to 13 days, until wings emerge.
What month do Dark-eyed Juncos spawn?
The first eggs of the breeding season are laid in the spring, with peak spawning from March to May. The second brood may start laying eggs in June and finish breeding by August at the latest.
Where do black-eyed rushes nest in winter?
In winter, black-eyed rushes perch on evergreen trees, shaded by dense foliage. They may also spend the night in tall grass or shrubs close to the ground to keep warm.
Closeup of a black-eyed Junco foraging on a spring morning
How do Dark-eyed Juncos build their nests?
Female black-eyed rushes will find a suitable nesting site and start collecting nesting material within a few meters of the chosen site. The female pulls the material together to form a round cup made of twigs, moss and leaves.
Lining material is collected from further afield and added to the interior of the nest. From start to finish, black-eyed rushes take 3 to 9 days to nest.
What do Dark-eyed Juncos build their nests with?
A platform of plant matter, such as leaves and moss, forms the basis of many black-eyed rush nests. This layer may not be present in nests built directly on the ground.
Best of all, a neat cup-shaped outer nest was made from twigs, leaves, and moss. Add a softer fur or root lining.
Are the nesting males or female Dark-eyed Juncos?
From site selection to nest building, the females are in full charge, and the males can show by providing nesting material that is often overlooked or often discarded by the females.
Female black-eyed Junco building a nest with grass in her mouth
Black-eyed rush eggs
What do Dark-eyed Junco eggs look like?
Black-eyed rush eggs are small and pale, ranging in color from grayish-blue to greenish-white. Eggs are spotted with reddish-brown spots, more concentrated at the larger end.
Eggs are 1.7 to 2.3 cm (0.7 to 0.9 in) long and 1.3 to 1.7 cm (0.5 to 0.7 in) wide, with an average mass of 2.53 g (0.1 oz).
How many eggs do Dark-eyed Juncos lay?
A typical black-eyed rush egg contains four to five eggs, although three eggs are not uncommon. Smaller litters often appear later in the season, especially if it is a third litter.
Do male Dark-eyed Juncos sit on eggs?
Only the female black-eyed lantern plant sits on the eggs and broods the young after hatching. The male will occasionally bring food to the hatching female, although the female will continue to leave the eggs briefly during incubation.
Close up of a Junco egg with black eyes
fledgling and parental care
When do the little black-eyed Juncos leave the nest?
Black-eyed rush babies are free to leave the nest 9 to 13 days after hatching. They remain near the nest and feed for another 2 weeks with parental support.
How many descendants do Dark-eyed Juncos have?
Sometimes, dark-eyed juncos have three litters a year. One litter per season is most common at high altitudes, but elsewhere two and three litters are common, and fourth successes are rarely recorded.
Female black-eyed Junco feeding a fledgling chick
Black Eyed Junco Nest FAQs
Will the Dark-eyed Juncos abandon their lair?
If disturbed or threatened by predators, black-eyed rushes will leave the nest and start over elsewhere. Replacement clutches are not placed in previously used nests.
Do Dark-eyed Juncos nest on the ground?
When choosing a nesting site, black-eyed rushes prefer sites as close to the ground as possible. Nests may be built in the roots of fallen trees or in intricate dense vegetation on the ground.
Where do black-eyed rushes nest at night?
Outside of breeding season, black-eyed rushes do not use the nest overnight. Instead, they inhabit conifers whose dense foliage shields them from their natural environment. Also find overnight shelter under fallen tree trunks and in low vegetation near the ground.
Black-eyed Junco feeding on sunflower seeds
How to Attract Nesting Dark-eyed Juncos?
Black-eyed rushes thrive in habitats with forest cover and lots of low-lying scrub. Evergreen shrubs and hedges provide shelter and provide rushes with easy-to-forage seeds. Blackberry bushes and similar plants are especially popular.
During the winter, they regularly visit backyard feeders and are attracted to seeds, especially black oil sunflower seeds, scattered directly on the ground at platform feeding stations or hopper feeders.
Black-eyed rushes also need a water source to drink from, and a shallow container on the ground will do just fine, rather than a taller or raised birdbath.
Do Dark-eyed Juncos sleep with their babies?
Female black-eyed rushes nurse their young during the first few days after hatching, but as time goes on they spend less and less time on the nest. Young rushes grow quickly and regulate their body temperature quickly, so there is no need for continued brooding.
Can you move the Dark-eyed Junco lair?
If the black-eyed rush is nesting in an unstable or reckless location, you may be tempted to pick up the nest and move it to another location.
However, under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, it is illegal to disturb an active nest for fear of upsetting parents and young, resulting in the nest being abandoned. The nesting period is relatively short, so it makes more sense to wait until they are no longer used.
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I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.
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