BIRD WATCH: Young birds provide much entertainment

“THERE IT GOES again.”

The phrase popped into my head when I spotted a towhee diving toward a large clump of sword ferns.

I’d seen this happen several times but hadn’t taken the time to see the bird in the ferns.

As I watched, it eventually flew out and landed in the top of the plum tree.

The fruit is still in an unripe state but that doesn’t stop the birds and squirrels from going after the small plums.

Did the towhee have a nest full of hungry young?

Was it in that dark sheltered corner of the front yard? Probably.

Once the young towhees show up, I will look for the nest.

For now, some weeding is on hold — in a part of the yard that badly needs it.

This happens a lot around here in the spring.

All it takes is a junco scolding in one area or bushtits whispering in another and yard chores become hit and miss.

Many of our resident bird species get their young out of the nest earlier than we might think.

However, in my mind, June remains the “nursery month.”

It feels like every few days, more and more young birds show up.

The starlings got off to what felt like an early start.

Their raucous chorus of howling young mouths went on for days.

I think that’s stopped but they will be back with at least one more brood.

The number of robin youngsters increases almost daily.

They are still finding their way about the yard.

That includes knowing what doors and windows are.

Fortunately, most of these inexperienced flyers aren’t as fast as their parents.

They don’t hit the windows as hard as their parents might.

Their reaction to sliding glass doors is the same.

While I was exiting one of ours, a collision was barely avoided.

As I was headed outdoors, a young robin was headed right at the door.

To its credit, a quick turn-around in mid-air allowed both of us to avoid running into each other.

That same bird or one of his siblings was the one who popped out of a bush beside the sidewalk and had me jumping out of its way.

Young birds are just plain funny when they are trying to grow up and become as wise as their parents.

They all possess mannerisms distinct to their species.

When bushtit babies greet the world, they do it with noise and an excitement impossible to ignore.

For whatever reason, our bird bath ranks high on things they must explore.

Eight or more bushtits, landing in or near this element they’ve never seen before, is enlightening.

They cluster so close together, they even land on one another.

That liquid stuff is a little scary and you don’t want to get too close to it.

Finally, one brave fellow touches the water and the shaking of feathers with the best bathing antics begins — whether they are in the water or not.

Song sparrows can’t keep it a secret when they have young in the nest.

They are so focused on finding food for their offspring that they seem oblivious to the presence of humans.

They will run under a lawn chair, scamper across the deck and peruse the flower pots on the patio.

It doesn’t matter if you are standing nearby.

They need food and lots of it for their ravenous young.

Each young bird is always worth taking some time to get to know.

They have distinct personalities and the entertainment they provide is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

I think the chickadees are just about to introduce their next generation assuring us the yard will continue to be anything but dull.

I just wish the towhee babies would safely leave their nest soon.


Joan Carson’s column appears every Sunday. Contact her at P.O. Box 532, Poulsbo, WA 98370, with a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a reply. Email: joanpcarson

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