Yay! Juncos Are Returning To Our Yards and Feeders!


Have you seen them yet? So many people are excitedly telling us that one of their absolute favorite sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, are returning to their yards and feeders!

That’s right – Juncos are small birds in the sparrow family. They leave us in springtime to nest in coniferous and deciduous forests throughout much of Canada and Alaska, and at higher elevations in the continental United States. They return to much of the continental United States every autumn where they can be found in fields, parks and our backyards in search of seeds!

There are six species of Dark-eyed Juncos in North America, but the one we see most commonly here in New England is the Slate-colored Junco. They are dark gray birds (males slightly darker than females) that look like they’ve been dipped in white paint!

We all like to think that the birds we see each year are the same that we saw the previous year and in the case of Dark-eyed Juncos they probably are! According to a study by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Project Feeder Watch, juncos not only return to winter in the same several-acre area, but to a favorite yard and feeder!

If you are not seeing juncos, but would like to attract them to your yard, try feeding them white millet in a tray feeder or toss it directly on the ground – juncos are ground feeding birds like Northern Cardinals and Mourning Doves. They will also eat sunflower chips and nyjer/thistle that has fallen to the ground and Bark Butter® Bits from a tray feeder.