Warm temperatures, green grass, colorful flowers and leaves covering bare trees. Yes, Spring has finally arrived in all of its glory. For many of us, it may also mean cleaning up the yard from the ravages of the rough winter that much of our country endured. As busy as we think we are, mankind is no match for Mother Nature's animals. I have been lucky enough to witness several species of birds building nests, incubating their eggs, feeding their young and raising them until their juveniles were able to go out on their own. To be able to see this process unfold before you is very fascinating and I did my best to document some of it for you in the photos that follow. Enjoy, Oscar.
Male House Sparrow
I love nature and I try to do my part to preserve and protect it in any way I can. To help give the birds a "leg up" In late March, I affixed a wooden birdhouse about 30ft high in a pine tree in my yard. After a couple of weeks, I saw a male and female House Sparrow inspecting the birdhouse and soon after they were bringing grass, straw, cotton and other materials into the birdhouse in order to build their nest. They packed the birdhouse so full of stuff that it began to protrude through some small seams under the roof!
Female House Sparrow returning to her birdhouse
Female House Sparrow peeping outside
Female House Sparrow with hungry baby!
The fun really begins after the eggs have hatched. The new baby birds chirped so loudly that their cries could be heard from inside of my own house! Both parents tirelessly took an active part in bringing back food to their hungry chicks. "How many baby chicks are in the birdhouse?" was my burning question but with the house hanging 30ft in the air, there was no way to tell. As the babies grew in size, they now began to appear in the doorway, mouths wide open whenever mom or dad returned with food. At first one chick was visible, then two and then......four! To help facilitate the feeding process, Mother Nature painted the baby's mouths bright red and yellow to create a perfect visual target for the parents.
Female House Sparrow feeding young
Female House Sparrow with two of her young chicks
Four hungry House Sparrow chicks cry out to their father
A chick nearly old enough to leave the nest
Everything I could have hoped for with regards to this sparrow family seemed to be going according to plan. They have a safe dwelling to protect them from predators and the weather. There was an adequate food supply due to the bird feeders, bird bath and bread that I made available to them. Despite all of these advantages stacked in the bird's favor, nature's game of "Survival of the Fittest" may have other ideas. One day, as I went outside to see what was happening at the birdhouse, I noticed some sort of object on the ground near the base of the pine tree. I walked closer to it and saw that it was one of the baby sparrows...and it was dead. Whether it tried to fly and failed or it accidentally fell out of the birdhouse I'll never know for sure but the sight of this little guy was truly saddening.
A baby House Sparrow, deceased after a fatal fall from the birdhouse
Rather than dwelling on this tragedy, I remind myself that this type of thing happens in nature all the time whether there is human intervention or not. Birds fall out of nests, snakes and other predators invade nests to eat eggs or young birds and a myriad of other natural events occur that can take the lives of many young animals. On a happier note, the remaining sparrow babies have grown up and left the nest and will hopefully continue the cycle of life for their species, perhaps in the house that they were raised or in the nearby woods. Below is a photo of mom feeding on of the juvenile sparrows. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this journey as much as I did.
Adult female House Sparrow feeding juvenile