5 Easy Ways to Attract Juncos to Your Yard! (2024)

Attracting juncos is not difficult!

how to attract juncos

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! 🙂

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:

Hulled sunflower seed - best birdseed types

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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!

B. Cracked Corn

cracked corn - types of birdseed

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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

white proso millet birdseed

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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!

junco in feeder

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:

Woodlink Tray Bird Feeder

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)

YouTube video

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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!

attracting juncos on the ground

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!

oregon junco in bird bath

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):

JCS Wildlife Poly Lumber Birdbath

best ground bird baths

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!

how to attract juncos

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.

junco weed seeds

  • 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!

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  1. Oregon Juncos are probably the most common birds at my feeders. Of course there sparrows of different kinds, Chestnut Backed Chickadees (my favorites), Mountain Chickadees come down in winter months and Black Capped Chickadees. Lot’s of different nuthatches and creepers, Pine Siskins and Gold Finch. We have House Finches, Purple Finches and Cassins Finches too. Lots of Stellers Jays and occasional Scrub Jays visit. Several varieties of woodpeckers and flickers. We also get several Western Race Rufus Sided Towhees and unfortunately, starlings. I also hang suet in five holders, for Townsends Warblers and Bushtits especially, but other birds feed on them as well. I make my own suet. I keep my hummingbird feeders full, because Anna’s Hummingbirds stay during winter months. We plant a lot of winter berrying shrubs, so when we do get a freeze, American Robins and Varied Thrush to pick at.. I will also hang grapes, skewer apples and cut up oranges in shrubs, for birds to feed on. When things go to seed in our flower gardens, we don’t trim things back until February, so birds can feed on the seeds. I even feed crows and they will occasionally leave me ‘gifts’. They also help me out by thinning mouse and small rat populations. Squirrels will drive rats away and I lubricate poles the feeders are on, so the squirrels can’t climb the poles. A Red Tailed Hawk got a big rat the other day. Because of my many feeders and the fact that I raise pigeons (show birds) and have compost bins, we attract rats. I mix flour and baking soda togetherm and will mix in a little bird seed and crackers and hide that so birds and other animals can’t get at it, but rats will find it and it will kill them. I don’t see any for awhile, thinking I got rid of them, only to have others come to take their place, it is an ongoing problem. They are those big Norway rats and the neighborhood cats don’t seem to help me control them, they rather go after the birds.

    1. ….’will pick at them’, not ‘to pick at’….sorry, I didn’t catch that.
      We have a lot of other birds as well, especially in the spring, summer and early fall, when migrators come back or stop for a rest on their way to Canada and beyond. We live in the Seattle metro area.

  2. THANK YOU so much for your wonderful information. I am a Utah backyard bird-lover who knows nothing. I had Junkos until I had to change feeders due to rats. Now my little Junkos are gone. I appreciate your tips!

  3. During the winter, I shovel a path to my bird feeders, and bird bath, in my backyard. As far as I know, I am the only person who shovels his backyard. Anyway, I put food on the shoveled ground which attracts Juncos and Pigeons.

    1. I used to shovel when we lived in far Northern NY State. We now live in the Seattle metro area and get little snow and when we do, it may be a couple inches that is gone in a few hours. Occasionally we will get a big dump of snow, so I shovel to and under the feeders and thaw water in the bird baths. So you aren’t alone.

  4. I have seen hundreds of dark eyes juncos over the past few weeks. Huge flocks of small birds; goldfinches, jucos, purple finches, and sparrows ( not sure what kind), and probably other small birds have been cleaning out my feeders on a daily basis. I have 1 platform feeder, 2 open fly thru feeders, 2 tube seed feeders, a tubular mesh peanut feeder, and 3 suet feeders.
    The juncos seem to mostly hop about on the snowy ground and under my 10 foot tall climbing hydrangea, eating whatever it is they find on the ground.
    I use a mixture of shelled sunflower seeds, out of the shell peanuts, safflower seeds and dried cranberries and cherries, that i mix myself.
    This is the first winter in the 38 years that I’ve been feeding birds that I have seen juncos this time of year. I have seen them in past years in the fall and spring usually, as they migrate thru my area (Upper Peninsula of Michigan).
    Love your blog…I find it quite informative as we as entertaining.

  5. I love your heart for birds and wildlife Scott and really appreciate your helpful tips to attract wildlife to my backyard. I agree about ground feeders but what about rodents such as rats and mice? Unfortunately my local wildlife took a huge hit when the the woods in back of me was cleared for a subdivision. Devastating to me but more for them. I am trying to provide them a safe haven for every tree was felled to put in massive homes. I have a pond and plan and some native gardens but want to do more for them. I do have a fenced in yard and the backyard is small but I am passionate about providing them a home to stay or visit. I want to make a pole station feeder but also ground. I think the rodents are coming from the land that was cleared. Any help Scott would be appreciated. Thanks for all you do for wildlife.

    1. Make sure you have shrubs where little birds can hide in from preditors. I plant winter berrying shrubs, so birds can feed on the berries as well. Low growing trees can provide shelter and can be used for nesting and put up bird houses. All with help you.
      Unfortunately, attracting rats and mice, is an ongoing issue and there isn’t a lot that can by done about them. Read my above comments though, that may help you.