The birdbath, on the other side of the house, was also the scene of a bit of drama today. This morning it was occupied by a chubby brown towhee who didn't want to share. A pair of sparrows were watching from the branches of the small oak tree. Every so often one of them would land on the rim of the birdbath and watch.
That didn't bother the bigger bird, but as soon as a sparrow tried to get in the water, the towhee would fluff itself up and chase the other bird away. They didn't give up, though. At times they were content to soak up a little of the overspray, but they didn't get their baths until the towhee was finished and gone.
Later on, it was a sparrow who was the big bird. This time a flock of tiny bushtits watched and waited and chattered. They didn't try to invade the sparrow's space, though. They knew the order of things, and they weren't about to make their move until the sparrow was gone.
As soon as the sparrow took off, the bushtits flitted down to the birdbath, one at a time, splashing away. There were ten of them, and it got kind of crowded even though they're very small birds. But they didn't fight over territory. They jabbered at each other and made room for each new bird that flew down from above.
Then unexpectedly Papa Quail sauntered out from beneath a nearby shrub. I hadn't seen him, and it was pretty obvious the bushtits didn't know he was there, because they took off en masse, in a twittering flurry of fluttering feathers. After they were gone, the quail disappeared back under the bush. Apparently he was just annoyed by the noise, in a you-kids-get-out-of-my-yard kind of way.