It’s mid-fall and many of us are noticing that our yards are full of juncos. They’re often called snow birds because their arrival seems to coincide with a recent snowfall, although many of us see the birds long before then. The Dark-eyed Junco breeds and summers in Canada and some parts of the U.S. About October, they start to appear in the U.S. in numbers. Flocks return to the same wintering grounds each winter, and they will winter in any of the continental U.S.
Because Dark-eyed Juncos can have so many color variations, each variation was once listed as a separate bird. Now, however, they are all called Dark-eyed Juncos with separate species, according to color and geographic location. There are the eastern ‘Slate-colored,’ the western ‘Oregon’ and ‘Pink-sided’ species. The ‘Gray-headed’ of the southwest and southern Rockies. And finally, the ‘White-winged’ race of the north central states. Juncos are the subject of a lot of study because of their species. The color variations have occurred relatively recently, as compared to other birds. As you can see, just about anywhere you live, you have the opportunity to see juncos!
Juncos will eat at a feeder, but they much prefer staying on the ground, eating grass and weed seeds. They will eat black oil sunflower seeds, but if you’d like to put out food just for them, they’ll like finely-cracked corn and millet. They’re happiest if you sprinkle the seeds around the bottom of your feeder or under shrubs and low bushes where they can feed in a protected place.
Although seeing juncos means the summer is over, it’s a delight to see these little birds again. They’re one of the few species we can welcome back in the winter, instead of having to say goodbye! Shop duncraft.com for millet to attract snow birds to your backyard. Happy Birding!
P.S. Enjoy watching the video of the snow bird, video immediately below.