It was about ten or twelve days before I could get some good photographs of the problem on the Song Sparrow's neck. I had gone out to check the nest when she decided to fly up on that weed again - in full sun - perfect for photos. And, she stayed there - grooming herself - plenty of opportunities to see the back of her neck.
I didn't know what to think when I looked at the photos.
I looked up everything I could think of about why sparrows go bald, but nothing seemed to describe this kind of presentation. Then I emailed the local raptor center describing the situation and including photos.
I got a reply that evening,
"This looks like possibly an old injury of some kind, with a little bit of a scab left. With any trauma like that sometimes the feathers won't grow back, leaving the exposed skin."
She also said that the fact that she was acting healthy was a good thing.
This mother Song Sparrow was really getting into my heart. Now I had empathy for this tiny little creature whose home and "family" had been messed with, but even more so when I know that she deals with a physical problem, and has a clutch of eggs that she is responsible for that might yet hatch into even more responsibility! It was very difficult, at times, for me to let nature take care of nature - and not get too involved in the process, but I did manage to do that.
(Tomorrow - Did you know that Song Sparrows LOVE water?)
(Photos taken 07-19-2010, Canon Rebel Xsi, 250mm lens)