For the past week or so, each and every time we come and go through our front door, a momma house sparrow (I think) takes off from one of our hanging plants and sits in a nearby tree until the coast is clear.
The other day I figured I’d peak into the plant to see just what was going on in there. I found four precious little eggs…and one, much larger, speckled one. Hmmmm.
After a shout out to social media and some research, I quickly discovered that we had an interloper on our hands.
According to dictionary.com the definition of interloper is
a person who interferes or meddles in the affairs of others or a person who intrudes into a region, field, or trade without a proper license.
As it happens, cowbirds are interlopers (or the bird variety) and it seems that is what egg #5 might just be. When the momma of the house (or plant, in this case) was away the female cowbird apparently snuck into the nest and deposited her own egg to be incubated along with the others. Sneaky.
Upon researching further, I realized that this practice will often lead to the demise of the resident eggs. The cowbird is much larger and demands more food once being hatched. Often times the smaller birds don’t stand a chance. I thought about removing the interloper egg, but that didn’t seem right. I also read that sometimes all of the birds may hatch and grow successfully…so I didn’t want to do anything that would jeopardize that possibility.
The very next day I peaked inside the nest again…and low and behold…the interloper bird had hatched. It is now three days old and still the only bird in the nest. The momma house sparrow still comes and goes each time we do the same. We have been keeping our distance, but I did sneak a few photos….and it would appear that the momma is indeed nurturing the young interloper bird.
I sure hope the other four eggs hatch and that their well-being is not at risk.
*After reading this post this morning to check again for any typos, etc. I noticed that the original 4 House Sparrow eggs have already decreased in number to three. Not sure how I missed that fact! Did one egg get kicked out of the nest? Is the 4th egg underneath the hatched baby bird? I don’t think so. Did it already hatch and not survive? Hmmm.
Read more about this interesting avian phenomenon HERE