Jill Yoneda admits she left the spring maintenance of her deck planter a little late this season.
And when that happens, nature takes over. Even if it’s just a deck planter on the balcony of an above-garage suite in Cadboro Bay.
“It was still June when a friend was like, ‘Jill, you have to tend to that planter,’” said Yoneda, a medical office assistant known locally for her long distance swims (including Marilyn Bell’s route of the Salish Sea). “The planter was growing a bit wild when I found the eggs.”
There were four eggs and Yoneda immediately took photos and began researching the nest. She identified them as Junco sparrows and witnessed the male and female as they took turns sitting on the eggs. Three of them hatched on July 3, and that’s when it got really fun.
Juncos are common across B.C. and the northwest, especially in Victoria.
“I’m not a bird watcher, before this I was not that interested in birds,” Yoneda said. “It was something my parents do, but I was so fascinated, I was constantly out there watching them. I felt blessed and honoured that they were right there.”
Yoneda used her phone to shoot the parents feeding the chicks in slow motion. She even caught a rare event that shows how truly resilient birds are in nature. Through the evolutionary process sparrows (and other birds) have developed a poop sack. Once the poop sack is full, the parents transfer it out into the nearby woods away from the nest. Thus, the nest remains clean and free of aromas that would invite predators.
Remarkably, the trio was out of the nest by July 14.
“The birds flew the coop, but I have seen them with their parents in the driveway,” Yoneda said. “The three of them flapping around in the driveway. Apparently the parents will continue to feed them during the fledgling stage.
“I don’t know what to do now, my heart aches a little that they’re gone. Am I going to be a bird watcher now?”