|Baby House Sparrow, Tucson, AZ 2009|
Birding is always fun, but with spring in full swing the baby birds are starting to show up in our yards. Now it's not only fun, its noisy! Once they are fledged most songbird chicks will follow their parents to the feeders and flutter and chirp and beg for food. Almost all of us will see a baby robin or a baby house sparrow in our yards at one time or another, but there are many more species of birds out there and they all have babies!
|Mourning Dove on Nest AZ 2008|
I am always surprised at the creative places birds choose to nest. This mourning dove in Arizona chose to nest in a pot on a neighbor's porch. The neighbor would sit quite close to it and the bird would not fly away! However, I do not recommend this. While we all like to feel close to nature, the birds will do better if we observe from a distance.
|Juvenile Mourning Dove Tucson, AZ 2008|
While you can see the adult above looks smooth all over, this newly fledged juvenile looks kind of scaly in appearance. While in most of the county this would make identifying this bird species easy, in Arizona one must be careful not to confuse this juvenile mourning dove with the similarly colored and scaly looking Inca Dove!
|Curve-billed Thrasher AZ|
An adult Curve-billed Thrasher is also readily apparent from that long curved bill and the bright orange eyes,
|Juvenile curve-billed Thrasher Corona de Tucson, AZ 2009|
but did you know that juvenile Curve-billed Thrashers have gray eyes? I found this one out in the big wash of Sycamore Canyon on the side of the Santa Rita Mountains in Corona de Tucson when I lived there. You can also see that its beak is not quite so long and curved yet!
|Gambel's Quail Chicks Coroana de Tucson, AZ 2009|
Is there anything cuter than Gambel's Quail chicks! These tiny babies must have been newly hatched. They were no bigger than the pebbles they are camouflaged like and to me they look like fuzzy pieces of popcorn running around with legs!
I would always put out a seed block to attract quail and other birds. It never failed to bring in the parents and the babies! These chicks look like they are playing King of the Mountain!
You can see that these chicks are a bit more mature than the tiny ones in the first photo.
I couldn't resist one more shot!
|Great Horned Owl Chicks, Tucson, AZ 2009|
Of course, Great Horned Owl chicks are awfully cute in their own way!
|Mystery Baby Corona de Tucson, AZ 2008|
But who am I?
I spotted this bird in a Palo Verde tree and tried to decide which species it was. It was a small, gray bird with no wing bars and no other coloring except a pale base to its lower mandible. Some species of flycatchers have this as a trait, but this bird did not behave like a flycatcher. Rather, it clung to the edge of the branches and twigs gleaning insects off the leaves and flowers. Do you know who it is? Behavior and location are key in this case, and the yellow lower mandible is a remnant of the bird's baby beak. It's parent has a bit more color but not much.
|Juvenile Verdin AZ 2008|
After some research I discovered the tiny gray bird is an immature Verdin! Verdin are tiny insects eating birds of the southwest. The adult's head is washed with yellow and has reddish lesser coverts or, epaulets as I like to call them. Such a tiny little soldier in such a dashing uniform!
|Juvenile Gilded flicker with parent AZ 2009|
I always find it interesting how the adult birds bring their fledglings to the feeders and actually show them where and how to get food! This new Gilded Flicker is watching and waiting for papa to pull out a seed and feed it to her. Yes, the juveniles will fly to the feeder, then cling there and beg! Eventually the parents will have had enough and they fly off and leave the pleading juveniles behind until they figure it out for themselves!
|Juvenile Gray Catbird Andover, MA 2011|
Last summer at the bog I was lucky enough to find this juvenile Gray Catbird in the brush alongside the swamp. You can see it still has a bit of a larger eye and a wider, pale-colored base to its beak. I wonder if this bird has returned as an adult this year to raise its own brood?
|Wild turkey and chicks, Norridgewock, ME 2012|
I found this mother turkey skulking in the weeds alongside a dirt road in Norridgewock, Maine a few weeks ago. At first all I could see was her head above the weeds but then she darted out into the middle of the road to cross to the other side and when she did a whole stream of little chicks followed her. I counted at least 14 little balls of fluff but there may have been more. It was such a thrill to see these wild babies in the wild. It really is what makes birding so much FUN!
Come visit me at Kathie's Birds! There were a couple of photos I wanted to post here but for some reason they would not upload, so I am posting them there.