Arboretum News

Chipping Sparrow Nest

Take a peek inside a nest of Chipping Sparrows.

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Can you spot the sparrow in the nest it built in this seasonal planter outside the Tashjian Bee & Pollinator Discovery Center.

By Liz Potasek

A Chipping Sparrow has nested in a seasonal planter filled with decorative branches outside the Tashjian Bee & Pollinator Discovery Center. This is the second year in a row that a sparrow has nested in that location, says Ping Honzay, Farm at the Arb Education Program Coordinator.

“Last spring at the Bee Center, we had a Chipping Sparrow make her nest in the decorative winter stems planted in a pot outside of the front entrance,” Honzay says. “This gave visitors a unique opportunity to see her nest and babies super up close — and for return visitors to follow the journey from eggs to hatching to baby birds finally leaving the nest.”

Chipping Sparrows are common and widespread, according to the Audubon Society Field Guide. “[Chipping Sparrows] nest in gardens and parks in many areas, its tame behavior making it well-known and popular,” according to the guide. “Evidently it was even more common in towns in the 19th century; but then the House Sparrow, introduced from Europe, took over its place as our number one city ‘sparrow.'”

While it’s unclear whether this Chipping Sparrow is the same one that nested outside the bee center, it’s quite possible that it is. According to Birds of the World, produced by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology: “In subsequent seasons, original nest site may be reused by returning female; nests of specific female in subsequent years often within short distances of original, suggesting strong attachment by female to nesting locations.”

Gardener Laura DeVries spotted the eggs in the nest on May 14.

The eggs in the nest were first spotted in the nest on May 14 by Gardener Laura DeVries. Chipping Sparrows usually incubate eggs for 10-15 days. Earlier this week, Honzay noticed the eggs had hatched.

Chipping Sparrows hatch “naked, helpless, eyes closed, with a few wispy down feathers on the head and body,” according to the All About Birds Guide. “New hatchlings weigh about one-twentieth of an ounce.” The hatchlings are fed by both their of parents. It takes 9-12 days from hatching to fledging.

Watch Another Nest at the Arb | Want to see a big bird’s nest? Check out the Arboretum’s live streaming Osprey Cam, which is documenting a pair of osprey that landed in the nest on April 16, 2020. There are three eggs in the nest, and we expect them to hatch between June 4-10. If all goes well, osprey typically nest April through August.

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