Like a scene from a city park, parents escorted their youngsters through our yard last evening. Some dutifully followed their parents, a few wandered off to explore their surroundings and others sat patiently, waiting for mom and dad to bring them treats. These visitors were, of course, the new songbird families of our neighborhood.
In some cases, the offspring closely resembled their parents. A pair of juvenile blue jays, lanky and less obnoxious than their providers, were already cloaked in the attractive plumage of adults. A pair of young mourning doves, smaller replicas of mom and dad, were just as mellow as their parents, sitting obediantly on a limb while dinner was collected. A lone cardinal youngster, constantly wandering off to pick through the grass, appeared to have no relation to his parents; nevertheless, the beautiful parents repeatedly showed up to feed their grayish child, proud of him despite his rather drab appearance. Finally, a striking pair of brown thrashers led their duller, shorter-billed fledgling across the yard, stopping now and then to stuff insects into his mouth.
Watching all of this was a childless robin couple, seemingly bored with the activity of their avian neighbors. Exuding a "been there, done that" attitude, these diligent birds had likely already raised their first brood and were planning for a second. It is, after all, almost summer.