I gave up on birding last year when grackles continuously and viciously took over my birdfeeders. And if it wasn’t grackles, it was just ordinary brown house sparrows. I had no bluebirds, no cardinals, just seldom finch visitors. I dread that this may happen again this year, but that’s beside the point right now.
I came back to birding this winter after a heavy snowfall when I noticed cute little gray and black birds. I grabbed my Birds of Kansas Field Guide and found my little friends, the Dark-Eyed Junco. I grabbed my binoculars and spent hours just watching the juncos hop around in the snow trying to find a stray seed on the ground. Realizing I still had some birdseed from the summer, I filled up my feeders to help the little fellas out.
Sure enough, more juncos came by until my back yard had dozens and dozens of them. Soon, they were joined by chickadees and other birds. Before too long, goldfinches and house finches started showing up. I suddenly had more great songbirds than I ever had. It felt like the birds had forgiven me for giving up on them on.
Now look where I’m at. I’m sitting outside typing this up just watching and listening to dozens of birds as they eat at my feeders and chill out. I’m running a blog all about birds. I have five active feeders right now delivering as much variety to different birds as I can. I found a passion.
And I owe it to the juncos.
I woke up a few days ago and checked my feeders only to realize the few dozen that constantly occupied my space beneath my feeders were gone. Juncos are only winter visitors in the Great Plains. Late March, early April, they start to migrate back north for breeding. And the thing about juncos is that they travel at night, so they won’t say goodbye and you’ll never see them leave. Life goes on.
I’m sad to see them ago, but I also know they’ll come back when winter returns. Their departure signals the arrival of spring, which has me excited. There’ll be a whole new group of colorful birds visiting Kansas. I’ve even set up alerts in the Audubon app so that if anything in a certain radius logs seeing some of these birds, I’ll get a notification. My feeders are ready. I have a great set up with lots of food I know they’ll love.
I’ll miss the juncos as I’m sure I’ll miss the summer birds when they leave too. I was going to have the juncos on the schedule for Bird of the Week, but I think I’ll wait until they return in the winter. Maybe throw them a welcome back party!