Feeding the birds and then watching them fly in to eat is one of my favorite hobbies. They give me hours of enjoyment from my study as I write, read, and work from my desk.
I have three feeders off my deck. Two are seed feeders and the other is a seed cylinder, usually filled with a cranberry mix. Because my bird visitors are commonplace, I rarely photograph the birds for my blog…unless something special comes along.
One of my favorite summer visitors is the Chipping Sparrow. It comes north to breed in the warm months and then returns to Texas, Mexico, Florida and other parts south for the winter.
I find the Chipping Sparrow’s appearance striking. While it’s black-streaked back is ordinary, its cap is described as rufous, meaning a reddish brown in color.
Monday afternoon a young visitor perched on my deck railing. Fortunately, I had my camera out because I’d been practicing on the birds getting better exposures. I wasn’t sure what this bird was, but had an idea.
Almost immediately, a parent Chipping Sparrow arrived to feed the youngster. I’m not sure the exact age of the young one, but I’d put it at the fledgling stage. While it could fly for short distances, it still relied on its parents for support, especially with feeding.
It was adorable to watch the touching feeding process. I could see the coloration of the fledgling's feathers matched the adults, although the rufous cap has yet to come in.
The two birds next took a short flight to the feeders. The fledgling seemed uncomfortable at first. As you can see from the tail showing below the feeder, the parent was on the backside.
The parent bird hopped around to the front, while the fledgling looked at it longingly. I wondered if it had learned to take food on its own yet.
I got my answer right away, as the young one opened its mouth to take some food. It reminded me of pictures I’d seen of nestlings, all with their mouths open. The chipping sparrow typically lays two to five blue green eggs. I was curious whether this fledgling had siblings.
Along with my finches, the Chipping Sparrows visit my feeders often. I can see why now, with at least one youngster to feed and get strong enough for the long migration south in the fall.