Spotted towhee feeding chick

Feeding Time for Junior

The pace of bird life around our place is picking up rapidly these days. Territories are being carved out and defended and songs are getting louder (not to mention, being broadcast at earlier hours each day). This morning we watched one of our resident song sparrows gathering up big mouthfuls of grass, carrying them off like a broad Fu Manchu moustache, to be used as construction material.

Pretty soon it’ll be the time when all those strange looking babies appear – oversized, gangly birds that don’t look quite like any species that we know. At first it’s easy to mistake them for newly arrived migrants. It’s only when they tag along behind a recognizable bird, hopping about and cheeping incessantly to gain the adult’s attention, that we can clearly see they’re the older birds’ offspring. By watching who’s following who, we can figure out which of the youngsters is a sparrow, towhee, junco, finch, robin or other avian variety.

It must be exhausting for bird parents. The Spotted Towhee in the photo above (taken in a previous summer) was, like many father birds, intensely busy – working hard all day long to feed his overly demanding chicks. He seemed not to care that the grain in the bowl was intended for a much larger animal – anything will do when Junior is screaming to be fed!

Clearly, these are busy times in Birdland.

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About Laurie MacBride, Eye on Environment

Photographer and writer focusing on nature and the environment

2 responses »

  1. Sherry says:

    Lovely post about the birds in your area. You have a great eye for the telling detail. I miss the birds back home. It will be great to see them again.

    • Thanks so much, Sherry. Many of the migrant birds that spend their winters in the tropics are now arriving here, so it’s an exciting time for sure. The rufous hummingbirds have been here for a couple of weeks now, and the violet-green swallows arrived yesterday, to re-claim the nest box they used last summer. Amazing to think about how far these little creatures travel every year!

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