Dark-Eyed Juncos, the “snow birds,” show up in our yard every fall and spend the winter with us. They are always a busy addition to the yard, eating seed I offer them and flying across the yard, flashing their black and white tail feathers. It always makes me smile when they arrive.
Last week there were more than thirty of them every day poking through the tiny spring flowers in the grass, eating nyjer and millet seed to gather their energy for their trek north to their breeding grounds. I think they have been starting to think about breeding because they’ve been chasing each other around the yard quite a bit for the past couple of weeks.
For weeks I’ve been on a crusade to get rid of House Sparrows that settled in over the winter. We’ve never had many House Sparrows. I only put out millet in the winter months for the White-Throated Sparrows and the Dark-Eyed Juncos. Each winter, I might get a couple, but they have always left once I stopped offering millet in the spring.
But this year, the House Sparrow population built up gradually over the winter. Now I typically see nearly twenty at a time and they’ve become a problem. If I let them stay, they will nest here and the numbers will climb like crazy. They need to go. This is the story of what has turned into one of my biggest bird feeding challenges. In the end though, I did get the House Sparrows to leave.
We’ve lived in our house for 34 years now. In all that time, I’ve only seen Eastern Bluebirds once or twice. Even then, they’ve never stayed long . . . until now. For the past few weeks, two male and one female bluebird pop up at the feeders periodically. Most days I see them for at least a few minutes. I’m trying to encourage them to stay.
This post will be a bit different than my usual posts. Instead of sharing everything I’ve learned afterwards, I’m going to offer a real time journal along the way. Hopefully I’ll be able to report that I’ve succeeded in enticing a pair to stay and nest in the yard. I hope you’ll take the journey with me.