Date: 7/5/18 12:32 pm From: Joel Geier <joel.geier...> Subject: [obol] "Are you my mother?" (sparrow version)
This morning while I was checking on an "Oregon" Vesper Sparrow nest on a pasture north of Corvallis, after noting that the female was incubating on the nest while a male was giving alarm calls from a nearby oak, I noticed an adult Savannah Sparrow sitting up in the top of a sapling.
The Savannah Sparrow was holding a very fat, greenish caterpillar in its beak and keeping a wary eye on me. Just two feet below the Savannah Sparrow, in the same tree, was a Vesper Sparrow fledgling.
As the Savannah Sparrow dangled this morsel, the Vesper fledgling began to flick its wings in begging behavior, then started to scoot up the tree. When it got within about 6 inches, the Savannah Sparrow looked down, then flew off to find another perch. The Vesper fledgling was left to sit there, with a dejected look on its face (well, at least so it seemed).
I'm guessing that this fledgling might have been from a previous nest by the same female that was on her second nest. Normally once a Vesper Sparrow female starts re-nesting, the father tends fledglings from the first nest until they're fully independent. In this case the presumed dad was focused on the threat posed by my presence near where mom was on a new clutch of eggs, but the youngster was seemingly oblivious, thinking just about its own needs.