Beggars

The incessant chirps of newly fledged chicks fill my backyard with noise in the mornings and evenings.  Poor little Chipping Sparrows flit about the yard collecting food for their enormous and ever-hungry Cowbird chicks whose parents happily deposited their eggs in the sparrow nest (see my earlier post on this).

cowbird-chick-being-fed by Chipping Sparrow

Fledgling Cowbirds look to be twice the size of their foster parent. Adult Cowbirds are nest parasites, (depositing their eggs in the nests of host species), a strategy that worked well for the nomadic behavior that evolved while the birds followdc buffalo herds through the temperate grasslands.

Lately, it’s the Blue Jay chicks that have dominated the backyard, as they follow their parents around begging for scraps. It must give the fledglings plenty of practice flying around obstacles and landing in tight spaces, as their parents fly from tree to tree to lawn, and back again.  They must have to wean those big chicks of their dependence on adults for food soon.

blue jay fledglings-

Five Blue Jay fledglings crowd around while one of the parents (top right) forages in the grass.

blue jay fledglings-

Still in its cute stage — this one followed a parent into the middle of the tree, and immediately started into begging mode as it watched the parent forage.  Its wings and tail are a bit shorter than the adult’s, but soon they will be indistinguishable.

blue jay fledglings-

Parent moves on…baby still begging with wings fluttering and making sharp jay noises.

Red-winged Blackbird males typically have more than one mate — the average is about five females per male territory, but some males have been observed to have as many as 15 females nesting in their territory.  As you might expect, with all those active nests with 4-5 youngsters in each, the females take care of almost all of the feeding chores (males might help feed the first nest in his territory, but usually none beyond that).  However, that doesn’t prevent youngsters from flying right up to dad to beg a bit of food.

red-winged blackbird male and fledgling

Nonchalant male ignores begging youngster — his job is to guard the nest, not feed the chicks.

8 thoughts on “Beggars

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