The Juncos, genus Junco, are small American sparrows. Their systematics are still very confusing after decades of research, with various authors accepting between three and twelve species. Despite their name appearing to derive from the Spanish term for the plant genus Juncus (rushes), these birds are seldom found among rush plants as these prefer wet ground while juncos rather like dry soil.
Their breeding habitat is coniferous or mixed forest areas throughout North America, ranging from subarctic taiga to high altitude mountain forests in Mexico and Central America south to Panama. Northern birds usually migrate farther south; southern populations are permanent residents or altitudinal migrants, moving only a short distance downslope to avoid severe winter weather in the mountains.
These birds forage on the ground. In winter, they often forage in flocks. They mainly eat insects and seeds. They usually nest in a well-hidden location on the ground or low in a shrub or tree.