Today's post is going to be longer than normal, because I want to show you three Horned Lark chicks from hatching to fledgling.
Did you know that Horned Larks build their nests on the ground? That would seem to make them susceptible to being trampled by cattle or humans, but somehow they survive.
As you can see, their camouflage is excellent. If it weren't for the bright orange throat of a hungry chick demanding food, you might not even notice the nest, particularly since the egg looks very much like a rock.
At this point, the nest doesn't appear too crowded, but that's because all the chicks haven't yet hatched.
Here's the second chick, just hatched. If you look closely, you can see the eldest chick with its head next to the unhatched egg and its yellow down quite visible.
What are these two siblings doing? My guess is that they're waiting for the third egg to hatch. Note that their beaks are open, probably in search of food.
At last! Three chicks and -- yes! -- three open beaks.
The nest is getting crowded now, but the triplets aren't ready to leave. Did you notice that you can see darker feathers beginning to emerge under the yellow down? I'm amazed that their beaks are closed.
Here they are, beginning to look more like birds than chicks and almost ready to leave the nest. Good thing, since the nest is now very crowded.
Once they leave the nest, I see them perched on fence posts and hear their song, and then the cycle begins again.