During the winter months many Dark-Eyed Juncos visited our backyard feeders. Most of them have moved north into Canada and Alaska to breed. A few remain year-round in our area.

There appear to be a pair of juncos, male and female, that frequent our backyard. I see them hoping and flying around our yard several times a day. They rely heavily on small seeds in the wild but also eat seeds at feeders particularly millet, hulled sunflower, and cracked corn.

The male junco, (pictured above) identified by its dark hood or head feathers, spends a great deal of time fighting with its reflection in our gazing ball. Each time it passes the gazing ball it stops to fly at and peck at its reflection. Some days this bird spends an hour or more trying to fight off that persistent bird in the ball! When the female junco comes near the male, he chases her away by lunging at her and flicking his tail to show his outer white tail feathers.

I’m not sure if the male junco is protecting the female by chasing her away from a perceived enemy or subordinate or if he is acting territorial.