This cute little chirping sparrow surprised me when I was out weeding and watering my raised garden beds. It didn’t even bat an eye at me, but just stared bravely from the wire on my tomato cage where it was perched when I stood and found myself looking at it after hearing a soft chirp. I was able to stroke its soft downy belly, and go get my youngest son to have a look. The baby chirping sparrow let him touch it ever so gently as well. All the while, its mother was chirping away in the nearby pine. After about 15 minutes of camera clicks and trying to capture the tiny bird in the sun rather than the mid-morning shade I was able to pull off this shot before the little fellow took flight.
We were in for an even bigger treat as the baby sparrow stirred up its fledgling siblings in the tree and five little birds flew to nearby plants. We hadn’t been aware of them nesting in the old robin’s nest in the pine, and it was very cool to see them take one of their first mini flights to test their wings. That was yesterday. Today I went out to harvest some basil for dehydration and there was the same little chirping sparrow perched in my tomato plants. I think perhaps we’ve made a friend.
Chirping sparrows have a really cool Latin name, Spizella passerina. They typically breed in wooded areas and farmlands across most of North America, but you will only see them in the summer months in Michigan. Some chirping sparrow populations are known to exist in suburban parks as well. They nest in trees that are low to the ground, and their nests are lined with animal hair most of the time. We did check the old robin nest where these fellows set up shop and it had been modified with some sort of fur. The reason you only see chirping sparrows in Michigan during the summer is that they migrate to the southern United States all the way down to Mexico each year. Typically they do this in flocks of 20 birds or more.
These birds have been a favorite of mine since they first nested in the tree outside my front door about five years ago. The adult birds have a rich rust colored head with a dark bill and they have tan backs with dark stripes. The wings are brown with white bars and they have slender tails. Faces of the chirping sparrow are light grey with a black line through the eye. I don’t know how long this baby sparrow will continue to visit us, or if we’ll get to see its adult colors, but I am very glad I was able to share its beauty of both body and song with my children, and through this photo – with you.