Watch out for ground-nesting birds while mowing
While mowing the yard last week, I happened to look down and catch a glimpse of something that gave me a reason to cut my mowing short.
I wasn’t altogether excited to mow the yard last week, so I admit I was looking for excuses to stop early. Thankfully, I found one.
As I was taking my third or fourth pass up the driveway, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. I thought I’d seen a small cotton ball bobbing in the tall grass. I took a closer look, and I realized it was a baby bird.
I turned off the mower and climbed down to take a closer look. Sure enough, it was a baby bird in a small, hollowed-out ground nest. The bird was a little white fluff-ball, and the only thing I could identify of it was its mouth when it pointed it to the sky and opened up, hoping for a tasty morsel to get poked into it.
Under the baby bird were two more eggs, which hadn’t hatched yet. I didn’t want to disturb the nest, so I got back on the mower and turned around. I figured that was a good enough excuse to leave that section of the yard alone. I didn’t want to mow up any little hatchlings.
I spent the rest of the day mowing closer to the house, but every once in a while, I looked back toward where I’d found the nest to see if Mama would come back. She kept her distance for a little while, but it wasn’t long before she was back to take care of her hungry little mouth.
I also wanted to know what kind of bird it was. The parents were horned larks, so I assume that’s what the little white puff-ball was too. And later in the day, when I went back for another look, the second of the three eggs had hatched, too. The newly hatched sibling wasn’t as pristine. It was more of a brownish-gray, and to say it wasn’t as cute was an understatement.
Again, I didn’t want to linger too long, because I’m sure Mama horned lark was anxious to get back to her babies. So I stepped quickly away from the nest, and one of the parents flittered back almost immediately.
I plan to keep an eye on the nest for the next few days, to see how long it takes before these little birds are self-sufficient. Being ground-nesters, I bet it won’t be long. I just hope it’s long enough to let me stay off the mower for another week or two.