A pair of song sparrows built their nest in our flower bed at the front of our house. They are beautiful creatures, having gray chests with russet dappling.
Watching their behaviour over the last week has made us huge fans of the birds, who show fascinating skills as they provide for their young.
They are wary of the environment, watching carefully to ensure there are no threats to their young before they return to their home. The nest is not visible in the mulch under the bushes but we have watched them with interest as they furtively make their way back to their abode.
When they have been away for a time, they walk around the flower bed before they go to the nest. If they have a beak full of food, but other birds or humans are around, they stand around holding the food, waiting for the perceived threat to leave.
My husband, Rick and I watch them through the living room window. Undetected by the birds, we have a great view of their activity, though we have never seen the nest. Not wanting to disturb them, we are glad of our vantage point by the window, and take turns with the camera, waiting for them. Like paparazzi lying in wait for the rich and famous, or stalkers who lurk nearby waiting for their prey, we wait.
The birds toil all day, back and forth to the nest with a variety of food hung from their beaks, such as maggots, caterpillars, slugs and insects.
If we are on the balcony, a floor above the nest area, they stay on the roof of the garage or the power line to the house, waiting for us to leave.
With their mouths full, they make a noise we imagine is a warning to the partner or a distraction to divert attention from their young. It also appears they clean out the nest, bringing out what may be dried feces as they do the nest-work.
On one occasion, Rick was on the flower bed in the area of the nest and one of the birds landed near him. It hopped away from the area as Rick focussed his attention on the bird, rather than where the nest might be. It appeared to be a deliberate effort to distract an intruder.
One day recently, while I worked on the garden, I noticed the two, facing me from the power line perch, each giving the warning chirp. When I moved behind them, they turned around so as to continue to watch. When I moved away, they flew to the neighbors' roof and observed from that location.
Meanwhile, we are settled in from our own perch at the desk by the front window, camera ready. The money shot will be a photo of the young birds as they leave the nest. What are the chances?