Family New World Sparrows (Passerellidae)

Least Concern

Yellow-eyed Junco (Junco phaeonotus)


French: Junco aux yeux jaunes German: Rotrückenammer Spanish: Junco ojilumbre

Junco phaeonotus


, 1831,



Closely related to J. vulcani, but its N populations are genetically very close to J. hyemalis. Usually considered conspecific with J. bairdi. Races form three groups, one represented by nominate and palliatus, the other two being single-subspecies groups formed by, respectively, fulvescens and alticola. These sometimes treated as three separate species; indeed, Guatemala population (alticola) appears genetically well differentiated from all other taxa in genus, and further work may support its elevation to species rank. Race palliatus intergrades with nominate in C Mexico from Nayarit, Durango, Coahuila and Nuevo León S to Guanajuato. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • J. p. palliatus Ridgway, 1885 – mountains of SW USA (S Arizona and extreme SW New Mexico) and NW Mexico from NE Sonora, Chihuahua and Coahuila S to N Jalisco, Guanajuato, San Luis Potosí and NW Tamaulipas.
  • J. p. phaeonotus Wagler, 1831 – Mexican Junco – mountains of C & S Mexico from Nayarit, Durango, Coahuila and Nuevo León S to Oaxaca and Veracruz.
  • J. p. fulvescens Nelson, 1897 – Chiapas Junco – mountains of interior of Chiapas, in SE Mexico.
  • J. p. alticola Salvin, 1863 – Guatemalan Junco – mountains of SE Chiapas (Mexico) and W Guatemala.
  • Descriptive notes

    13·5–17·2 cm; 18·3–22 g (Arizona). A medium-sized sparrow, grey and white in coloration, with white in outer tail. Nominate race has head and... read more


    Song typically given from perch 3–5 m high, often in treetop, characteristically consists of... read more


    Montane conifer and pine–oak (PinusQuercus) forests; some... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds on insects and other arthropods, and seeds; during breeding season mostly insects, especially Lepidoptera, beetles (Coleoptera), ants... read more


    Nests found between mid- Apr and early Aug in S USA (Arizona) and in May and early Jun in SC Mexico (Morelos); up to three broods in a year... read more


    Mostly sedentary; in Arizona often moves to lower elevations in winter. In Chiricahua Mts (SE... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common or abundant in appropriate habitat in many parts of range. In N part of range, numbers seem to decline during times of drought... read more

    Recommended citation

    Rising, J. & Marks, J.S. (2020). Yellow-eyed Junco (Junco phaeonotus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 22 February 2020).