It hasn’t snowed yet, but my snowbirds are back. About 2 weeks ago, when the thermometer plunged to 20 degrees, they found their way to my backyard – where they belong. The friendly little songbirds had been missing in action since March, when things started to warm. Then, they headed for Canada to spend the summer. Now they have returned.
Snowbirds, officially known as Dark-Eyed Juncos, are largely grey and white. The females are a dull dark, tan while the males are dark grey, almost black, with a soft white breast.
Snowbirds are attracted to backyard feeders and usually form small flocks of 8 or 10 birds and spend the winter. In summer, snowbirds eat mostly seeds and insects. They are particularly fond of caterpillars, beetles and grasshoppers. When that food source dries up, they shift to seeds and berries if available.
Snowbirds typically lay 3 or 4 eggs and will have one or two broods a year, occasionally 3 if conditions are right.
Juncos will fly up to feeders, but they really prefer to feed on the ground, as do their sparrow cousins. I try to scatter seeds on the ground in the winter, particularly for the snowbirds. I have noticed that the birds quickly adapt to human presence and you can often approach within just a few feet before they fly.
It’s good to count them as regulars again in my backyard.