Northern Flickers - female (left) and male (right)...
One of the most
common winter birds is the Dark-eyed Junco. People all over
North America know this common little bird, but the benefits of having
juncos around are anything but ordinary. They are some of the
most helpful of garden birds because they consume many types of weed
seeds and insect pests.
Depending on where you live, your juncos may look a bit different than the ones that visit our yard. There are many different varieties of juncos. The most common variety here in the Northwest is the 'Oregon' - Dark-eyed Junco. We also occasionally have a junco of the 'slate-colored' variety show up in our yard.
Whatever variety visits your yard, you are sure to recognize them as the cheery little birds that brighten the cold, gray winter days.
Dark eyed Junco in snow by, my Mom, Janis Wasell
Did you know...
God Thought of It First!
Hey kids, next time your parents tell you to weed the flowerbed, instead of complaining, just think, God thought of it first! God designed some birds specifically for the job of 'weeding' ~ meaning that they eat the weed seeds of many unwanted plants to keep them from reproducing in even larger numbers and taking over! Juncos are great weed-eaters (very funny ~ I know). We also have to do our part to keep weeds in check. This keeps our gardens beautiful. When you have done a good job of weeding your garden, stand back and admire your good work!
Winter Feeding and Gardening for Juncos
Dark-eyed Junco eating a sunflower seed by, my Mom, Janis Wasell
These are all plants that we have in our yard. A wide variety of birds including juncos use these plants for cover and as places to search for insects, berries and seeds.
The bird seed patch has been my newest addition to my junco habitat. I simply scattered black oil sunflower, millet and milo seeds (regular bird seed that you find in big bags for feeder filling) in our raised beds in late winter to early spring. I put out plenty so that the birds could also eat some as well as sowing some. The rain watered it and the result was a beautiful abundant patch full of bird seed plants and lovely yellow sunflowers.
Last fall and this winter, juncos and sparrows began feasting on the ripened seeds when the stalks looked brown and dead. It has been a great success and I would recommend this idea to anyone. If you would like to try a bird seed patch of your own, plant a patch this spring. Let the plants stand all year, even after they have become brown, dry and dead looking. You will be greatly rewarded with many junco and sparrow customers next winter. You will know that the seeds are ripe when the birds start eating them! Once the number of seeds are dwindling, you can pull it up and prepare the soil for the planting the following spring.