Poop happens. When young chicks in the nest poop, their feces is contained in a diaper-like package, called a fecal sac, that helps keep the nest clean and tidy. The parents will remove the sac and carry it away from the nest, or even eat it! For our saltmarsh sparrow #neighbirds, females are the sole caregivers and every extra calorie for mom helps. Even from a fecal sac.
Once saltmarsh sparrow chicks are old enough to leave the nest, the mother bird starts caring for them in the nearby marsh. At first, ‘teenage’ sparrows will often return to or hang out right around the nest, creating a mess! Mom keeps feeding them, but stops cleaning up after them (sound familiar?). Biologists use the messy nest as a tell-tale sign of teenagers out and about! Here you can see a recently fledged sparrow sitting on top of its old nest.
Photos by Bri Benvenuti/USFWS
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