Dark-eyed Junco Nest With Eggs

Dark-eyed Junco nest (Junco hyemalis) with eggs in a ground level nest in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, Canada.

dark eyed junco nest - junco hyemalis - eggs in a ground level nest

Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) Eggs (Purchase)

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   In late April I was mowing the grass growing between the raised vegetable garden beds and discovered this Dark-eyed Junco nest, complete with eggs, on the ground underneath a small overhang. This is a common place for Juncos to place their nests, I’ve come across a few others on the ground in tall grass in previous years. I try not to disturb these junco nests when mowing, but I did flush out the female that was sitting on the it at the time. She did sit on the nest again about 5 minutes later, however. A week later I did take a look at the nest (from afar, at first) and the eggs were gone. We have a lot of Black Squirrels (invasive species) that love to snack on bird eggs, so that might have been the fate of this particular clutch. Crows are another likely candidate, though they are not the only other bird species that would look at these as lunch.

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24 thoughts on “Dark-eyed Junco Nest With Eggs”

  1. I think a bird, maybe a crow stole one of a junco’s eggs. How can I keep them away from nest that is in a flower pot on my patio table. I’m afraid to move the pot lest she lose her eggs.

  2. Could the parents have relocated the eggs?

    My dog disturbed a nest on the ground, so I moved the eggs to their first nest location (which had been abandoned just a day earlier) – on top of the fridge on the porch… and a few days later the nest is again empty.

    It’s not likely any predators found them, so I’m hoping the parents relocated them – if that’s possible.

    • I’ve never heard of birds relocating eggs so I think that is unlikely, unfortunately. On the plus side, Juncos can have more than one brood per season so they are probably trying again elsewhere.

      • They did put some new (?) eggs in the nest on top of the fridge, and at least 2 hatched. We were away from the house for a few weeks, so they had some peace & quiet for a while – the kids are all flown, now (I assume, as the nest is empty again). One of the pair, at least, is still around though. They built another nest in the gutter next to the nest on the fridge, and I upset him when looking to see what they had built up there (no eggs, empty when he left). 🙂

        A bunny moved into the yard while we were gone, too…so the dog and cat are busy trying to follow her trail around, now.

  3. We were seeing a junco hanging around our deck area and later found a nest in our hanging fuchsia when I removed it to water. I removed the nest and filled in the hole as we had a cat and I was worried about predation (we also have squirrels, raccoons and corvids). I also have to fill hummingbird feeders on either side every other day.

    The nest was back two days later. We made a pact to not water the fuchsia if we found eggs in the nest. Today I removed the basket for watering and I found two eggs in the nest (so no more watering). We aren’t seeing the junco on or near the nest.

    I’m looking online to see if it’s normal behavior to NOT incubate full time. There are a number of people reporting that for juncos that build in hanging plants, the parent gets scared off when someone comes outside. What I’m not seeing is whether or not the eggs can survive if the eggs are not continually incubated. We’ve pointed a security camera on the nest and should see when the parent returns. It’s been a couple of hours and nothing.

    • I don’t know if they are on the nest constantly, but hopefully your nest is successful. A security camera is a great way to watch without disturbing them!

    • Did you ever see the parents come back? Some juncos set up a nest near our back door in a bike helmet. I saw a Jay steal an egg today, then the juncos flew in and started yelling at me about it, and I haven’t seen them since, including for incubation for the remaining egg, sadly.

  4. I just found a junco nest with 4 eggs under my son’s covered motorcycle. I had the cover off for about 5 mins getting pictures of his bike for him. The mama bird was very mad at me but left after about five minutes. I put the cover back but haven’t noticed if she has returned. My son will be picking up his bike in two days and I’m not sure what to do about the nest. Can a nest be moved or will she abandon it? I thought I could try putting some chairs in place of his bike and put the cover over those to mimic the covered bike but I’m not sure that will work. Any suggestions?

    • This reply comes a bit late but I’m not sure what you could do in that situation other than try to move it. Most likely it would be abandoned. How did it work out?

      • I tried putting chairs under the bike cover to mimic the bike but it appears the mama has likely abandoned the nest. Within days of this, I interrupted a mama building a nest in a planter on my back deck. I was hoping to discourage her since I have 2 dogs and a cat who spend a lot of time out there but she persisted and there are now 4 eggs. I’ve resorted to letting the animals out through a different door and supervising them so they don’t bother her. She is hunkered down on the nest and doesn’t seem bothered by me since I don’t get too close. I’m looking forward to seeing the babies. I may have to put the cat on a leash so she doesn’t disturb them.

  5. UPDATE: We received two bits of info from fellow birders which made us feel better about the unattended eggs.

    1. I suspect that the female is still building her clutch, which is usually 4 eggs. She will start sitting when all 4 are laid in order to have a synchronized hatch. If no third egg by tomorrow then likely need for concern. Hopefully all will go well and you will enjoy the rearing process.

    2. Clutches are typically 3-4 eggs not two. The female will leave to cool the eggs so that they don’t get too hot.

    It’s now 14 days later and this evening is the first time I’ve seen two birds in the nest. Both left when I refilled hummingbird feeders and it looks like we might have babies. Light is fading so we’ll have to check tomorrow. There were never more than 2 eggs in the nest (clearly visible in pictures from the security camera).

    • Most clutches might be 4 but some pairs are just underachievers I guess! 🙂 Thanks for the update – glad to hear it seems to be going well so far.

  6. We have happy juncos.. last summer 3 eggs were laid outside our door in a hanging basket with fake flowers inside..all hatched..we put the planter away and got rid of the nest where it was alittle messy..we hung it this year and a new nest was made and a junco laid 4-5 eggs all hatched..and now 4 newly laid eggs..she enjoys ancient grains..I throw the odd handful outside-she fed some to her babies before they left the nest..they eat ants..I do see the male and female in the tree now and again..they are feisty birds..and so precious!

  7. Hi there!
    We found a nest 07/03 with 4 eggs while weeding and 3 birds hatched 07/07. I used my 70-300 mm lens to capture them growing from afar once a day. I went to take the daily photo today and found am empty nest! I don’t know what possibly could’ve gotten them! I saw a snapping turtle around a few days ago but they don’t really hunt on dry land. I’m soo devastated for them! ??

    • Sorry to hear about your Junco nest! It would be hard to tell what got the nestlings – could be almost anything from other birds, snakes, raccoons etc.

      • Yeah, no idea! I was just so sad, but I know we couldn’t have done anything! Hope they’ll have better luck next time if they nest on our yard, we just have sooo many predators around! 🙁

  8. I have a Junco nest in my hanging basket that’s pretty high up. She laid 3 eggs, but there are only 2 babies? Not sure what happened.
    I have a ladder next to the nest in which I climb up to look in. Sometimes the mama is in there and stays put. When she’s gone though, I carefully take the basket down and water around the nest to keep my flowers alive in the basket that gives them shade.
    We had record breaking heat here in Seattle last week and the poor things were in the direct sun. I was able to rotate the basket around so the nest was towards the back of the porch and had more shade.
    It’s been so fun looking at them and watching them grow! Now I worry about them falling out of the nest as they learn to fly 🙁 Hopefully it doesn’t happen!
    Once they’re gone, do I remove the nest?

    • It can be quite common for not eggs to be viable, so 2 babies out of 3 eggs isn’t bad. Generally speaking the least amount of interference/close observation of the nest you can do will increase their chance of survival. That said, a hanging basket is a tough one if you want to keep the plants alive! I had similar temperatures here east of Vancouver but the Juncos seemed out make out just fine. While your Junco parents might have another brood, they won’t use that same nest again so removing it after it has been abandoned would be fine. Good luck your Juncos!


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