Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Junco Heaven

We've had huge flocks of juncos hanging around the yard for a couple of weeks. Since the snow started melting, they've really been showing up, sitting on the ground scratching around and eating all the seed that was revealed by the disappearance of the snow. I love hearing their little twittering calls and watching them enforce the pecking order. They're kind of a scrappy little bird and you can notice their hierarchy when certain birds are chased away from the feeding area. They're most comfortable feeding on the ground or in a tray feeder, but I've occasionally seen them in a seed catcher tray on a tube feeder and even sometimes even on a perch on the nyjer thistle feeder. Their favorite seed is white proso millet. They also eat many weed seeds from the lawn. Many times I'll see little flocks of them sitting out in the middle of the yard.

All the little dark spots in this picture are juncos feeding on the ground and in the tray feeder. The bright yellow objects are partially eaten corn cobs which are enjoyed by bunnies, bluejays, grackles, and crows. I have a friend who still picks corn on the ear and he sells me 50 lb. bags of ear corn for cheap. Once the deer start coming back, they will start eating this ear corn also.

They're one of our most common winter birds in Minnesota. We should be seeing them for several more weeks before they depart for their summer migration to nesting grounds in Canada and Alaska. I'll miss them when they're gone, but then I'll have the spring and summer birds as consolation.

Gotta' love them "snowbirds!"

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