Friday, July 19, 2013

Raising Sparrows In My Deck at Pacific Gardens

Every morning I am awakened by the loud chirping of baby birds. This is usually around dawn and then goes on for the rest of the day. It is quite a chorus and they are very persistent in making their needs known…more food please!! This is the second family of house sparrows being raised in the birdhouse on our deck. I have been fascinated watching the various comings and goings of the parents.

Dad, the more colourful one, often sits on the top of the birdhouse or on the eaves of the house and seems to keep watch. As there are some cats around, I think this is a wise move. Mom comes flying in with some tasty morsel and as soon as she does, Dad flies off. They seem to come and go in rotation. I have found that they work amazingly well as a team. Both are feeding the young and take their responsibilities very seriously.

I am now learning of their different calls. The parents have a more mature kind of chirp and Dad seems to show off with a variety of very melodic tones. Sometimes he is very loud and boisterous. Other females have been hanging around, so I’m not sure if he is trying to attract them, or say keep away from my babies!! The babies are not melodic, just loud and wanting attention. It is just like the young of all species, that they cry or make lots of noise when they are hungry. So interesting to watch what happens in nature, and see that humans behave in the same way.

The babies kept inside the birdhouse for the longest time and I could only hear them. Now I see a beak peeking out every once in awhile, but as soon as they hear me open the door, they retreat and there isn’t a peep out of the babies. I am always amazed how they learn to keep quiet when they perceive danger. Who taught them? The Pacific Chorus Frogs do that as well. They can be making a huge racket and as soon as a car drives in or our footsteps crunch on the gravel, there is total silence. Amazing co-ordination!

I realized that in this hot weather our pond has dried up, so there isn’t fresh water readily available to the birds. I put out two water dishes with rocks in them, so they can drink and bathe while tending to the babies. I envision a very tall bird-bath in my garden, one that cats can’t access, but it will serve all the birds, bees, butterflies that regularly visit my flowers.

These baby birds are lucky that both parents are able to take care of them and keep feeding those hungry bellies. When one or both die, it probably means the death of the babies. That is one reason I don’t like to see domestic cats killing birds, as the cats don’t need the food, but they are having a devastating effect on the world-wide song bird population.

The most vulnerable time will be when the babies are flopping around, sometimes on the ground, while they exercise their wings and try to get air-borne. It is still summer, who knows, maybe this romantic couple will try for another family as soon as these babies leave the nest. They were certainly amorous when they found the nest box. It has been so much fun raising a family on my deck. I hope they make it!


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