About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Juncos magically appear when it snows

Have the juncos migrated down yet? I haven't seen mine.
The minute the snow starts to fall, Dark-eyed Juncos magically appear under our feeders. All juncos breeding in northern parts of their range migrate south for the winter from August to December. Eighty percent of the females tend to migrate through Michigan to winter farther south while the males winter in Michigan. Males winter further north so they can be the first ones to fly back in the spring to claim the best nesting territory.

Watch for them feeding on the ground, kicking up leaf litter to find a tidbit buried beneath. In the winter Dark-eyed Juncos are primarily seed-eaters, with seeds of grasses, flowers, and weeds, making up about 75% of their diet. At the feeders you will see them eat sunflower seeds, millet, safflower, peanuts and peanut butter suet on feeders that have a large perching area like tray or ground bird feeders.

When the snow comes and buries natural food sources, juncos take advantage of feeders. Seeing them after a snow is one reason their nickname is snowbird. Dark-eyed Juncos are often called “snowbirds,” because their southern migration foretells the return of cold and snowy weather. The snowbird nickname is also attached to the junco because it describes their white belly plumage and slate-colored back, which reflects “leaden skies above, snow below”. They also wake up very early. I see them pecking by my feeders way before the sun rises.

Related Articles:
Fun Facts About Juncos http://bit.ly/pgewJn
What birds like Safflower seed? http://bit.ly/puRjIr
Sparrows Native to mid-Michigan http://bit.ly/nURO99
Do the same birds show up at the same feeders year after year? http://bit.ly/GMaOYV

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