Monday, 1 July 2013

Chipping Sparrow Parenthood

Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina
Parenthhood
1 July 2013

    Incredibly we noticed a second juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater begging for food from its Chipping Sparrow parent. This bird is considerably younger that the one that has befriended us (see previous post) and appears to be fresh from the nest. It is astounding to watch its performance as it vocalizes almost non-stop and follows the parent Chipping Sparrow like a little clockwork toy, freshly wound up. Its persistent begging garners results of course, as food is constantly stuffed into its mouth.
    In Cowbirds and Other Brood Parasites Catherine Ortega cites parasitism rates as high as 62.5% in some jurisdictions for Chipping Sparrows, and in New World Blackbirds Alvaro Jaramillo concludes that Chipping Sparrows are the fourth most frequently parasatized host of Brown-headed Cowbird.
    For two years in a row we have witnessed this outcome first hand in our own back yard.
    Happily, Chipping Sparrow parents were also feeding their own young.

Juvenile Chipping Sparrow

Juvenile Chipping Sparrow


Chipping Sparrow feeding Brown-headed Cowbird

Chipping Sparrow feeding Brown-headed Cowbird

Chipping Sparrow feeding Brown-headed Cowbird

Juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird

Adult Chipping Sparrow

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