Baby birds and tiny caterpillars

There have been a lot of babies in the garden this week.

Fledgling birds

For a few days, we’ve heard very noisy baby birds begging for food. While we couldn’t see them, we suspected they were Chipping Sparrows. We finally saw the young birds out in the open sitting on branches and hopping around the ground between plants. The frantic parents make trips back-and-forth from the feeder to deliver seeds. Each time the mother or father bird approaches, the fledglings frantically flap their wings and squawk; they are loud and we hear them begging constantly from dawn to dusk.

We finally found out why there is so much noise — there are also two fledgling Cardinals. They are adorably round and fluffy. They also raise a ruckus whenever their parents are near; they tremble, flap, and make plaintive begging sounds. While they wait patiently for their next meal, the little Cardinals sit quietly, walk around a bit on their branches, and frequently stretch their wings.

Perhaps the Cardinals are younger than the Chipping Sparrows because the Cardinal parents aren’t feeding them seeds. They must still be eating soft insects, like caterpillars, found in nearby trees or on the ground.

One of the fluffy Cardinal fledglings in the lilacs. (June 16, 2019)

American Lady butterfly caterpillars

Since I saw the American Lady butterfly laying eggs on our pearly everlasting, I’ve been watching for caterpillars. They’ve hatched! To locate them, I look for webbed areas and frass (caterpillar poop). The caterpillars create little webbed shelters so they can hide from predators, like parents of baby birds. There are caterpillars on all the patches of pearly everlasting in the front and back. Interestingly, this year there are no eggs on the field pussytoes, another American Lady host plant. (Edited: I later found some on field pussytoes.)

American Lady butterfly caterpillar webbing and black frass. The tiny caterpillar is black, near the top of the leaves. (June 15, 2019)
Another American Lady caterpillar.
I later found some American Lady caterpillar webbing on field pussytoes.

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