Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sparrow Family

For the past several years, we've had sparrows nesting under the roof of our covered patio.  I read that the male sparrow selects the site for his nest, builds it, and then woos a lady to share it with him.  Sparrows are monogamous, so once they find a mate, they stay together for life.  Once a nest site is chosen, he will usually keep it his entire life.  This particular sparrow has wintered in his nest for at least the last four years.  The females don't necessarily stay with their mates during the winter, but come back to the nest in the spring.  We've had to modify things a bit here and there to make this nest a better home.  The white board in front was added two summers ago, because the babies kept falling out of the nest.  Sometimes we'd just happen to be around at the right time and get them put back in, but mostly if they fell out, they died.  This was heartbreaking for all of us, so we've helped the sparrow family by making it easier for the babies to stay in the nest.

This mommy and daddy usually have three or four batches of babies each summer.  This is their first brood of the season, and we've been watching the nest and keeping track of how the babies are growing.  Once the eggs are laid, it takes a couple of weeks for them to hatch.  The babies hatch with no feathers, and their eyes are closed.  We know when the babies have hatched because we'll hear soft cheeping.  But they grow fast, the cheeping becomes louder and more insistent, and soon they're coming to the front of the nest for feeding.  They get very noisy when a parent is back, trying to get enough attention (each trying to out-yell its siblings), to get that juicy bug.  Amazingly, it only takes a couple of weeks for the hatched naked and blind babies to be ready to fledge and leave the nest!

Mother Sparrow, mouth full of bug, making sure it's safe to proceed to the nest.  Each parent sits on the power line for a moment to make sure nothing dangerous follows them home.
Mother feeding her babies, with Father impatiently waiting outside for his turn to feed the babies.

Finally, Father Sparrow gets his turn. In and out so quickly, he's a blur.

In watching the parents take care of the babies, I've noticed that the mommy bird is much more nurturing than the daddy.  She flies in and carefully feeds the babies, taking time to poke bugs in each little mouth (she will often have several bugs in her beak at one time), makes sure everyone is settled and kind of tidies the nest, then she flies off to find more bugs.  Daddy, on the other hand, greatly differs in his parenting style.  He usually comes back with one bug, is sitting outside the nest waiting his turn to feed the babies, and is squawking at the mom to hurry up.  When she finally flies out, he quickly goes in, pokes the bug into a mouth, and flies back out.  He's so quick, it's hard to get a photo of him!  No fuss, no muss. Straight to the point and efficient. 

The video is mostly to share what we hear, not so much what we see in the nest.  It shows just how noisy a nest full of baby sparrows really is!

We look forward to seeing our sparrows raise their babies every summer.  It is amazing to watch what God created, and put into motion, at work.


  1. So sweet! I love watching the birds in our yard. We don't have any nesters, but lots of visitors!

  2. That's so cool. Once, many years ago, we were lucky enough to have a nest of cardinals outside our window, and I loved watching them.