Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Field Sparrow Nest

I usually don’t find many bird nests while I’m walking through the fields, even though I flush a lot of birds that I’m sure have been scared from their nests. Many birds will move away from the nest before coming out of the grass, so you can never be quite sure where the nest might be located. It’s likely that in a search for the nest, I would trample more than I found, so when a bird shoots out of the grass ahead of me, I normally change course and move away. It was just luck that allowed me to find this Field Sparrow Nest.

I found the nest while investigating some corridors I had cut through a thick stand of small cedars. I did a lot of corridors such as this during the early days of my management efforts. This is a fairly quick way to see how the plant population is going to respond to added sunlight and allows you to plan your activities in the areas that will get the best results. This corridor was cut over ten years ago and the grass doesn’t really look much different than it did when the cedars were still there. It became a low priority for additional management.

I had reached this point when a Field Sparrow shot out of a bushy little stunted tree. Since I was actually looking at the tree when the bird took flight, it was obvious where the bird had been.

Another couple of steps and I could see the eggs. Had the bird stayed in place, I would have passed it by without noticing.

Early season Field Sparrow nests are typically found in the grass near the ground. Late season nests are often found in these short, shrubby trees. In the winter when leaves have fallen and the dead grass stalks have dried, the old nests become readily visible.

Insect populations are really going crazy this year, so there ought to be plenty of food for the hatchlings. It seems to me that there’s not much in the way of fine grasses or hair lining this nest pocket. The ground is visible through just about every part of the nest. This must be some kind of airy summer construction.


  1. Hi Steve ..When I see nest like that i always think that seems stupid ..right in the open looks so vulnerable hmmmm..I guess they know what they are doing the color of the eggs!!
    It is interesting to just happening upon a nest when you don't expect to!!
    It pretty darn hot here I would want my nest light and airy for sure!!

  2. It seems strange they are so close to the ground - so close for small mammals to have eggs in their next meal. :\

  3. ...loved this post, Steve. I've never seen a Field Sparrow's nest. Beautiful eggs. I like the sparse construction!

  4. Great post, Steve. I happen to be giving away a new book about nests!! Stop by and check it out!! ~kaholly

  5. Hi, grammie g. It's out in the open, but it's really hard to see. I think it'll be safe.

    Hi, Lois. This nest is actually higher than most Field Sparrow nests. Usually they'll be found at ground level. A lot of grassland birds keep their nests hidden down near the ground.

    Thanks, Kelly. If I was a bird, I'd want plenty of soft fluff around me when I popped out of the egg.

    Thanks, Karen. The book looks really interesting. It's amazing how some birds can construct such intricate nests.