Animals Drawing Sketchbook Pages

Baby Bird Steps Out

Baby bird steps out and I have questions
Baby bird steps out and I have questions

The day before the baby bird in the nest outside my window left the nest for the first time, his entire extended family of California Towhees chirped loudly all day, making a metallic “chip” sound, calling to him and to each other. The next day there he was, sitting in the tree on a branch near my window, looking right at me. He was bigger than I expected and was definitely having a bad hair day.

And now, quiet. No more constant activity of  bringing food, standing guard, warning off interlopers. The nest is empty and the chirping is over.  After watching them for days raised so many questions, which I scattered in my sketchbook among my 10 attempts to sketch the baby. My favorite was #8 when he turned his head to see mom bringing food and then opened wide to eat that yummy stuff.

I’d always thought birding was for boring old folks but now that I’m a boring old folk myself, I’m finding it quite interesting. Since my knowledge of birds is pretty limited, I initially assumed these guys were robins, since they sort of looked like them but without the red breast. Then I found the Cornell Lab of Ornithology All About Birds website where you can search by many different criteria to identify a bird, including their sounds.

That’s how I learned that these guys are California Towhees which I confirmed by listening to them here. If you click the link and go listen to their sounds, you’ll understand how I came to feel that a community of chirping Towhees was as annoying as a neighbor’s constantly barking dog. I’m guessing they were all calling to the baby, “Come out, it’s safe, we’re standing guard, come out, come out, and try your new wings!”

I’m glad the incessant metallic chip, chip, chip sound only lasted one day, but I miss watching the birds being busy in the tree outside  my window and so do my cats.

6 replies on “Baby Bird Steps Out”


I’m glad you were able to identify your chick!

Your questions are interesting! Great thinking / questioning…

Each species of bird has its own set of answers to the social and developmental questions. Good resources (in addition to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology) are David Sibley’s Guide to Birds and Guide to Bird Life and Behavior. Also books by Donald and Lillian Stokes, the Audubon Master Guide Series (3 volumes), and… I’ve been packing up non-essential books, so I can ‘see’ another 2 books in my mind’s eye, but cannot read their covers!

Ah, I’m so literal…

Good birding! as well as sketching and painting…


“now that I’m an old folk…”
Jana, it’s your humour that will stop your becoming”old.”
And thanks for the links;my birdy tomes are (of course) mostly Australian.
And the word fledge comes down to us from Old English and(probably) Old or Middle Dutch, meaning to “give feathers.” In English, a fletcher was the chap who set the feathers in arrow shafts.
I’m just a word nerd!


You know how much I love words too….definitely a fellow word nerd! I love those feathery tidbits and am delighted by “give feathers”! Thanks! Jana


I cannot stand Towhees. They live in the East Bay and wake me up practically every fucking morning at 5:30. ARRRGH!


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