Wednesday, November 07, 2012


I found this tiny bird’s nest this morning right where I photographed it. Only perhaps 4 inches across, the nest is made of carefully woven grasses. I imagine that Hurricane Sandy knocked it down from whatever perch it rested on. The orange bittersweet petals were probably not there during nesting season. Bittersweet blooms and turns orange in the fall, so that addition likely happened long after nesting season was over.

The grasses don’t appear to be anything unusual, though the top strand is both longer and paler than the rest. I wondered if it was thread or even dental floss, but I haven’t tugged at it to see if it is manmade or not. The size and materials used for this nest are consistent with that of a chipping sparrow’s nest, though of course I will never know for sure.

Chipping sparrows are the summer's most common sparrow here on the mountain, and they are known for their flimsy nests. They don’t use mud or any other material as glue. They just weave their grasses, and often the nests are so ill-made you can see right through them. This one appears to be a bit better than average—at least I can’t see through it.

The nor’easter that’s currently due to further bother the New Jersey coast and points east later today and tonight is likely going to drop the first inch or several of snow to my mountain. Here I am, still cleaning leaves off my decks and out of my gutters, and now I’ll have to look for the snow shovel, too. I guess climate change is taking a break from all its overheated work of the past few months.


Scott said...

Nice nest, Carolyn, though I wouldn't have had a clue as to its maker so I appreciate your guessing. I noticed the orange carpels of the bittersweet right away--I'm highly attuned to this attractive but nasty plant. I'm assuming that they're Asian bittersweet carpels; Ann Rhoads of the Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia, one of Pennsylvania's preeminent botanists, has told me that she hardly ever finds the native bittersweet in the state anymore.

Pablo said...

Now that the leaves are falling, I'm finding nests that I never knew where there. Many are quite close to where we have our campfires and go about our woodsy activities.

Carolyn H said...

Scott: I'm not sure what the nest is either--something small for certain, and the structure certainly suggest that chipping sparrow is a reasonable guess--not to mention the fact that I more chipping sparrows per square inch than almost any other sparrow in the summer. So unless I guess more evidence to the contrary, I'm saying it's a chipping sparrow nest. And yes, it's the Asian bittersweet that's in the nest. It's been a few years since I found the native kind.

Carolyn H said...

Pablo, Isn't the way of nests. Those mamma birds are very good at being sneaky when they they have an active nest. More than once I've wished I'd found a nest after that fact and wished I'd known about it when I might have gotten some nice photos of the baby birds.