In the Juniper
Howdy. I'd like to show you what's going on in one of our shrubs. We planted columnar junipers up against the house about six years ago, and they're finally big enough to host nesting birds. One juniper fledged a brood of house finches in early May; the female sat her eggs through a late snow flurry or two. I was interested to note the thick covering of white down on the house finch nestlings; they're obviously pretty well adapted to cold. The nest is thick and fluffy with plant down and soft fibers, and the female is a stolid sitter.
Right below the house finch nest, our yard pair of song sparrows built another one. I discovered this nest on June 24, quite by accident. I was standing next to the juniper, talking to some friends about, of all things, finding birds' nests, and this female song sparrow shot out of the juniper and disappeared around the corner. "She's been on a nest," I declared, walked over to confirm it. Three eggs! This is probably this pair's third attempt. The first was successful; three young fledged and are still around the yard. There was time for a second attempt, but I don't think any young resulted.
Yesterday, I stuck my camera into the juniper (the nest is over my head) and got this lucky shot of two feathered young, probably nine days old and pretty near fledging. I'll leave them be from now on. They 're still in the nest this morning, as evidenced by the pair's near-constant alarm calls and ferrying of suet dough to their waiting gapes.
We have been enjoying the male's singing lessons. He started singing to his young before they hatched; I've no doubt they heard him from the egg. He sings loudly, and close to the nest, which puts him right outside our bedroom window. They're learning his song, and he's teaching it to them. If they're females, they'll know what to listen for in a mate; if they're males, their brains are putting neurons in place to replicate it. The pleasure in listening is ours! He's our alarm clock.
Because Bill loves them, some field daisies in morning sun. They're at the edge of the prairie meadow he burned over, disced with the tractor, and planted for me this spring. Behind them you can see some Maximilian sunflower plants. They love being disced; it replicates them endlessly! We've not had morning sun for quite some time--we're socked in with a fine misty fog this morning--but I can dream. When he gets home maybe he'll read this, walk out to the meadow and bring me a daisy.