Of birds…

… and bees. In early spring, we placed a number of bird houses into our garden. In a city like ours, these are generally occupied by house sparrows (I wish, we had blue birds!)

Sparrows in the bird house under the crab apple tree

By mid spring, every bird house had tenants. Right now, the birds are raising their second brood of the year. When they feed their babies, even sparrows need more nutritious food than bread crumbs or seeds. They look for insects. Our sparrows have discovered a never ending supply of insects in the garden: the bee hive. The sparrow parents hang out near the hive entrance, snatch a bee, sometimes in mid flight, and carry it off. Sparrows are not the only birds that have learned about this convenient food source: A while ago, we observed a cardinal catching bees, too. Oh well…

A few days ago, the sparrow babies from the blue bird house fledged. We saw see them hop about on the ground. Flying was clearly not yet their favorite way of getting around, although they can fly when they must (like when a photographer gets too close).

Tow young sparrows. Their beak has still the bright yellow edge and their mouth is also yellow. This feature makes the beaks irresistible to parent birds and tells them where to put these bees.

A little earlier, a family of young starlings visited the garden. They are grey-brown instead of shiny black and almost as cute as baby sparrows. Starlings also nest in cavities and could theoretically move into our larger bird houses. So far, we have not seen starling tenants, though. The parents of these starlings must have build their nest in a different hole. Maybe there is a hollow trunk in one of the trees nearby, or they found a man-made nesting place.

A young starling tried to get to some water that had collected in an empty planter.

It is amazing how well starlings, sparrows, robins, pigeons, doves and even cardinals and hawks have adapted to living in a city as big and busy as New York City. All of them seem to thrive among us humans and our buildings, roads and small parks. Good for us who enjoy watching them!