Attracting juncos is not difficult!
If you want to see more of these beautiful birds in your yard, today’s article is going to help. My guess is that you’re just a few adjustments away from seeing lots of juncos!
Interestingly, there is only one junco species that most people in North America will ever see, and that is called a Dark-eyed Junco. Luckily, this species is widespread and commonly seen in EVERY state and province.
But the crazy part is that it has SIX different color morphs and looks completely different depending on your location! To learn more about this phenomenon and also why Dark-eyed Juncos are called “snowbirds,” check out the fun article below! 🙂
- RELATED: 10 Fun Facts About Dark-eyed Juncos!
Here are FIVE easy ways to attract juncos!
#1. Attract juncos with foods they love!
The BEST way to entice juncos to your yard is to make sure they can find their favorite foods when they visit. So what do juncos like to eat?
In general, these birds are granivorous, which means they eat a variety of seeds and grains, especially in winter. Luckily, many commonly available feeder foods are PERFECT for juncos!
Here are the THREE best foods for attracting juncos:
A. Sunflower Seeds:
Nutrition Information: 40% fat, 16% protein, 20% carbohydrates
Juncos LOVE eating sunflower seeds, but they seem to like them best when already shelled. While they can crack open the thin shells of black-oil sunflower seeds, I have found they prefer to eat them with the husks already taken off. Don’t even think about using striped sunflower seeds, as these shells are WAY too thick for juncos.
One of the BEST parts about sunflower seeds is that they attract the widest amount of birds versus any other food. Seriously, you can expect cardinals, jays, nuthatches, titmice, woodpeckers, grosbeaks, finches, nutcrackers, blackbirds, doves, sparrows, and grackles, in addition to juncos!
- RELATED: 31 Types of Sparrows Found In the USA and Canada! (Did you know juncos are a type of sparrow?)
B. Cracked Corn
Nutrition Information: 5% fat, 9% protein, 74% carbohydrates
Cracked corn is whole kernel corn that has been chopped up. Many birds cannot eat whole kernel corn because it’s too big, but many birds, such as juncos, like eating cracked corn.
The best part about cracked corn is its INEXPENSIVE price! This grain is commonly used in birdseed mixes to help get the bag’s price lower.
C. White Proso Millet
Nutrition Info: 4% fat, 11% protein, 73% carbohydrates
Millet is a favorite food among ground-feeding birds, like juncos. It is generally not sold individually but is included in many birdseed mixes.
There are a few different types of millet, but the best one is white proso millet, which is a small round starchy grain.
A word of warning: Many birdseed mixes also contain RED proso millet, which is red and smaller than white millet. Juncos will eat red millet, but it’s not their favorite. So, if possible, I would try to avoid buying a mix that includes red millet.
Here are a few other foods that juncos will eat:
- While sunflower kernels, cracked corn, and white proso millet seem to attract juncos the best, they will also eat Nyjer seed, safflower, milo, and chopped-up peanuts.
#2. Buy bird feeders that juncos will actually use!
So far, we have learned the types of foods that attract juncos. But these native birds are a bit picky about where and how they feed. So if you want to see them, you need to use feeders that appeal to them.
In general, juncos prefer feeding on or very near the ground.
In addition, they like open areas when eating, so the BEST feeders are trays, platforms, open hopper feeders, or just spreading seed directly on the ground!
Here is my favorite bird feeder for attracting juncos:
Click PLAY below to see this feeder LIVE on the ground in my backyard! You may see a Dark-eyed Junco right now, especially during winter. (Learn more about my live bird cams HERE)
This feeder is an excellent, multi-purpose tray. I love that it can be used in three ways; on the ground, hung in the air, or mounted to a pole.
To attract juncos, the BEST place to put the tray is right on the ground. This location is where they feel the most comfortable eating as they forage. Just spread a mixture of sunflower seeds, white proso millet, and cracked corn inside and watch the birds come! 🙂
- The metal screen bottom provides excellent drainage. So your food will never be sitting in standing water. The screen bottom is also removable and slides right out. This feature makes it easy to clean!
- My only complaint with this tray feeder is its durability. It’s made from wood, and the screws that connect the fold-out legs tend to get loose after a year or two and need replacing.
Putting food directly on the ground attracts juncos!
If you don’t want to spend additional money on another bird feeder, it’s not a necessity for juncos. Instead, just throw a handful of their favorite foods directly on the ground. Honestly, this is probably where they feel the most comfortable eating anyway.
The main benefit of using a ground feeder is that the food stays fresher longer since it’s not lying on the ground.
#3. Attract JUNCOS by providing water!
Another way to get juncos to visit your yard is to provide a consistent water source. Juncos will not only use it to keep hydrated but also to bathe and stay clean. Unless you are lucky enough to have a stream or lake nearby, the best way to offer water is to buy a bird bath.
When it comes to attracting juncos, you will want to find a GROUND BIRD BATH. As we have already discussed, juncos feel most comfortable on the ground.
Here is the bath I use in my yard for juncos (and other birds):
Compare the prices of this birdbath!
First, I like that this ground bath is made from recycled poly lumber. This material is incredibly durable. I have owned this product for a few years now, and there has been no fading, splitting, or cracking of the material.
The height of the bath is roughly 6 inches (15 cm) off the ground, so it’s easily accessible for juncos and many other animals. Even newborn ducklings have been observed jumping up and going for a swim!
I leave this birdbath in my yard all year round. During the winter, I place a deicer into the water to prevent freezing. Since the water is only 2 inches (5 cm) deep, it freezes extremely fast, as you can imagine. The juncos will very much appreciate having a water source when everything else is frozen solid!
Lastly, I wanted to mention that the plastic pan is not attached to the poly lumber. So this makes cleaning the pan extremely easy! Almost every time I refill the bath with water, I remove the pan and dump out the debris that managed to spill into the water.
#4. Keep your feeders full!
I know this tip sounds like common sense, but it’s actually harder to accomplish than you might think. Trust me, there are many cold, winter nights when I’m warm inside, but I know my feeders are empty. It takes a lot of willpower to get up, put on a jacket, and head outside to freezing temperatures so the morning visitors have food!
As hard as it might be to keep your feeders full of seeds, it’s incredibly important.
First, if your feeding station is always full of fresh food, you will have more birds visiting. If the feeders are sometimes empty, your juncos will need to explore their territory to find other food sources. And what happens when they stumble across your neighbor who ALWAYS has a variety of seeds available? 🙂
Second, individual Dark-eyed Juncos are known to visit the same feeding stations multiple years in a row. That’s because these birds establish territories, which are about 10 acres large, and the same 6 to 20 birds use the same area each year. Your goal is to convince the juncos living in your area that you have the BEST feeding location, and they need to hang around your yard as much as possible.
#5. Give juncos plenty of places to hide.
Juncos can be pretty skittish. At the first sign of trouble, they retreat back to a safe hiding place.
So if you put your bird feeding station in the middle of a barren yard, it’s going to be hard to attract juncos. They are not going to feel comfortable!
The more shelter and shrubbery you can provide, the safer you will make juncos feel. I have my feeding station next to a brushy forest area, and it’s amazing how you can’t even see the juncos coming. They just seem to magically appear out of the woods for a few moments to grab some food, then head back to safety.
Here are some tips to help make your yard more appealing to juncos!
- Plant shrubby evergreens: These plants are great for almost every bird species. They provide great shelter all year round and safety from predators.
- Plant a native perennial flower garden: Dedicating a portion of your yard to native flowers serves many purposes. The dead plants provide shelter through the winter (don’t cut them down until spring), but they also produce many seeds that juncos can eat! Some of my favorite flowers include coneflowers, bee balm, milkweed, black-eyed Susans, and daisies.
- Make a brush pile: Piling up all the branches and sticks from your yard is excellent for wildlife. Juncos will appreciate the hiding places and shelter on cold, windy nights. Insects also thrive with brush piles, which provide food for all sorts of creatures during warmer months.
- Keep your weeds! Juncos LOVE eating weed seeds. Their favorites include dandelions, chickweed, crabgrass, ragweed, and many more. They would appreciate it if you didn’t treat your lawn for weeds. 🙂
Just remember, there is nothing less appealing for wildlife than a barren grass lawn filled with pesticides, fungicides, and other chemicals. The more native flowers, shrubs, and trees you can include, the better!
And don’t forget to put your bird feeders CLOSE to an area in your yard with natural hiding places. Make sure there is plenty of room ON THE GROUND for juncos to forage and feed too.
Do you have any additional tips for attracting juncos?
Today, I provided multiple strategies you can use to attract these beautiful birds to your yard. We talked about the best foods and feeders, along with ways to make the surrounding habitat appealing.
I’d love to know what strategies have worked best for you?
Please leave a comment below, along with the specific junco species you have been able to attract!