Juncos 24/7

by Larry
(Grimsby, Ontario, Canada)

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

I live in the Niagara Region, directly at the foot of the Escarpment in Southern Ontario (Canada). In the winter months, juncos and doves frequently visit our platform feeder. We use a good quality mix of seed.

"Our" juncos appear to be living in a small evergreen bush (too small at this point to call it a tree) a few feet away from our feeder. We know the juncos sleep there because we sometimes accidentally startle one or two of them when we go out back at night to reload the feeder. It's kind of cute to see one pop out of the bush, chirping, as if to say "Can't you see we're trying to sleep in here?!"

Juncos make great vaccuum cleaners, eating up all the seed that's knocked to the ground by the doves. Near sunset, the juncos retire for the night and the doves take over. We usually have ten pairs of doves or more out there staying up way past their bedtime, mostly feeding on ground seed.

Cardinals and blue jays drop by now and then, with the jays preferring to dive bomb the peanuts we leave out for the squirrels. Spring is here and we're looking forward to welcomimg back the robins, finches, red breasted grosbeaks and so many more to our backyard. We'll be laying out the usual assortment of nesting materials (including suet for the woodpeckers) over the next few days. Is this a great time of year or what?

Yes, it is a great time of year! Juncos are quiet, unassuming visitors, modest in manner and in dress; but how we would miss them! Juncos, who are extremely sociable birds, except when nesting, need help in keeping together. A crisp, frosty 'tsip call note signals alarm and away flies the flock. Notice when he flies, the white feathers on either side of his tail serve as signals for his friends to follow.

Happy Birding!

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