Thursday, May 17, 2012

Magic Number Four

Chipping Sparrow eggs?
It never fails.  Just today, on a day of vacation to work in the garden, I was puttering around as usual, all the while thinking "what should my next blog be about?"  It must be blatantly obvious by now that I could blog ad infinitim about roses, evermore adding one more to the list of roses I've discussed, but Garden Musings already is top-heavy with roses.  If roses were the only thing I ever wrote about, I'm afraid I'd risk alienating some readers.  Believe it or not, I do occasionally try to relieve the monotony here for those who aren't unwaveringly rose-crazy.

Like magic, the answer to my question lay in the 'Carefree Beauty' rosebush I had just trimmed.  There, deep in the heart of this stalwart rose, was a tiny nest, about 2.5 inches in diameter, with four of the cutest little sky-blue-speckled-with-black eggs I've ever seen.  After an exhaustive search through my field guides and the Internet, I believe these eggs are most likely those of a Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina).  It is a very common sparrow around here in the summer, and the nest placement, about 4 feet off the ground in a bush, is correct, and the eggs are distinct and resemble the available pictures on the Internet.  Thankfully, these eggs don't resemble one of the many sparrow species in this area that are light blue with lots of light brown spots or I wouldn't have been able to even guess at the origin.  I'll try to confirm the identity with a visual of Momma Bird in the next few days, but it is going to be difficult at best.  I've scared her off the nest a few times today, but haven't been able to discern anything but a quick brown blur darting into the nearby viburnums.

Killdeer nest
I also found yet another Killdeer nest today while mowing, also with four eggs.  Why does four always seem to be the number of eggs for birds in Kansas anyway?  This new nest was placed almost exactly where another brood was raised two years ago, on a hillside in very short grass.  I would never find these nests if the Momma wouldn't try to lure me away, feigning a hurt wing.  Today's Momma didn't even bother with that;  she just sat on the nest and fixed me with a baleful eye while I mowed around her.  For the life of me, I don't understand why they don't nest in the taller grass that I never mow, in this case just 10 feet away, but I suppose they have their reasons.  I think they're pretty gutsy to lay these eggs on the almost bare ground.  The wider view below will give you a better idea of how exposed these eggs really are;  the eggs are in the center of the picture.  It must be a tough life to be  Killdeer chick.


  1. I'm always excited when I find a nest. I have wrens and bluebirds nesting in houses I put in the garden and usually find various nests in my giant Prague viburnums. I'm really hoping to get a glimpse of babies. It's such a simple, pure pleasure. Love your nest photos. :o)

  2. i'm so glad you take the time to post your thoughts. the topic hardly matters: roses... birds.... soil.... the blog is always a pleasure to read.

  3. They lay the eggs in full sight so you don't step on them. he he

  4. I built this huge birdhouse for finches, with a ventilated roof and floor. Also perfect specifications according to the experts. Well apparently the starlings like it too. What an ugly screech they have. lol.

  5. by the way. that word verification thing is annoying. You know blogger has new security for its verification and you don't need the verification.

  6. btw, I'm heading up towards colorado and wyoming in late June. Maybe I could swing by and get a garden tour?

  7. Casa Mariposa; Glad you liked the nest photos. I'll be watching here for the babies.

    Judi, thanks for the kind comments.

    Greggo, I removed the word verification and you can come by the garden anytime; but as I told you in private response,you may be disappointed at the actual garden; Like a....exotic dancer..., I only show my best parts, not the flaws.


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