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 the past few weeks I’ve been on a crusade to get the House Sparrows that settled in over the winter to move on. We’ve never had many House Sparrows in our yard. 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 probably 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.
We’ve lived in our house for 34 years now and in all that time, I’ve only seen Eastern Bluebirds once or twice and they’ve never stayed long . . . until now. For the past few weeks, I’ve been seeing two males and a female 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 of what happens along the way. Hopefully by the end of it 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.