Monday, April 23, 2012

Hosting a Family of Juncos in Alabama

For the last three years, a pair of juncos have built a nest atop the porch light in our back yard. Each year I have done whatever I can to deter them - knock down the nest in its early mud-and-stick stage; put a small, upturned hand-held rake on top of the light; leave the light on so it gets too warm - but to no avail. These juncos are determined that this is their nesting spot.

Waiting for the coast to clear for safe passage to the nest
 Juncos aren't particularly troublesome birds. Being in the sparrow family, they eat mostly seeds and small insects. My main concern has been getting my eyeballs pecked out by an overly protective momma bird; and this year, that concern extended to Darby's eyeballs, particularly since she likes to chase after the birds when they alight in the back yard. But the juncos don't seem to be bothered by any of us except when they forget we're in the back yard and land too close for comfort on the patio table, resulting in each of us being startled.

Lighting from the fence, bringing nourishment to those babies
In the last couple weeks, we started hearing chirping as momma nears the nest. And with each passing day, the little gray lumps of feather have kept getting bigger, until now when momma junco has to sleep on the edge of the nest and the junclets spend their days peeking over the sides, observing the goings on.

 In the not too distant future, silence will be emanating from that next. The babies will have learned to fly. And everyone will be off to northern destinations and cooler climates.

I count four heads, which is quite the nestful

Addendum: After I initially drafted this piece but before I was ready to post it, there was a significant change in the lives of these birds. I was sitting outside Saturday afternoon, drafting Sunday's post after running the Statue to Statue 15K, when I heard a flutter of wings. I immediately looked up to see one of the babies flying to the fence. It wasn't graceful, but he made it. Then he allowed me to approach for a close-up photo before fluttering off. He was much less shy than his mother.


  1. Try putting a rubber snake on top of the light, that's the only thing that worked for a pair of robins that kept trying to nest in a corner of my house.

    1. Thanks. That's pretty clever. I'll have to give my wife ample warning, or I'll be just as likely to scare her off too.