1

It is late in the summer, and most of the Cape Sable seaside sparrows have finished up breeding. The fledglings are now independent of their parents, and they form flocks that roam the prairies, exploring the habitat and seeing what the adult sparrows are up to. They have more confidence when they are in groups, and, like young humans, do not have much of an attention span.

‘What are you doing with that thing?’ ‘Oh, wait. I hear somebody singing. Let’s go over there.’ ‘Ooohh! She’s feeding babies in a nest. That is so cool!’ ‘Ha ha! The big monster just fell over into the water. That was funny!’ Or maybe they aren’t thinking all this; I’m just getting loopy from the heat.

2

This curiosity has a purpose: to learn the landscape, figure out where they want to hold a territory next year, and learn more about how to be a sparrow from the adults. Adults generally tolerate juveniles crossing their territories, although they usually chaperone the youngsters as they pass through. Some of the young males are already ‘practice-singing’ by now, although their voices are not developed yet and the songs are not recognizable.