Discover The Fascinating World of Bird Families, From Hatchlings to Fledglings

Experience the Joys of Watching Fledglings Grow and Learn in Your Backyard

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As a nature lover, having a bird nest in your backyard can be a rewarding experience. The arrival of fledglings in the summer is awe-inspiring, representing the continuation of life.

If you have birds nesting in your yard, grab your camera and keep a journal to capture the joys of seeing fledglings hopping around and enjoying their newfound freedom.

Here are some of our favorite “baby” bird moments.

The Red-bellied Woodpeckers are fascinating to observe. During the day, the male and female take turns feeding their young. The fledglings learn to come to the suet feeder by themselves, under the watchful eye of their vigilant parents. At other times, the parents bring the youngsters food.

Blue Jay parents feed their fluffy youngsters, which appear larger than them. The young Blue Jays get impatient waiting for their parents to bring their meal, so they quickly drop to the ground for a quick insect snack until they return.

Blue Jay parent feedings its hungry youngsters

The young Tufted Titmouse flaps its wings eagerly, awaiting its parent’s return with food. As soon as the parent leaves, the chick starts demanding more food.

Young Downy Woodpeckers swing and glide over branches like their own jungle gym, patiently waiting for their parents’ arrival with food.

Delicate and active Chipping Sparrows can be seen clustering with their young ones in the trees, feeding them as they leap from one branch to another.

Another beautiful sight is the male Northern Cardinal taking care of its young one on the ground, feeding it attentively.

Cardinal mom feeds her youngsters

In the distance, the Red-shouldered Hawk family takes flight, making their resounding “kee-aah, kee-aah” calls above us. Witnessing the beauty of nature all around us is truly incredible.

Red-shouldered Hawk chicks waiting for their parents to return with food

“Baby” Bird Terminology

If you talk with bird watchers or experienced birders, you might hear them use different terms to refer to what some call “baby” birds. However, it’s essential to know that there is no such thing as a “baby” bird in birding terminology. The terms they use relate to the different growth stages in a bird’s life. 

-Chick: Any bird that’s still relatively young.

-Hatchling: Birds that are no more than a few days old. They are typically naked with closed eyes (though certain species, like the Killdeer, are born with down feathers).

-Nestling: After a few days, a hatchling becomes a nestling. Nestlings are usually covered in down (fine feathers almost like fur), utterly dependent on their parents for food, and do not leave the nest.

-Fledgling: When a bird is ready to leave the nest, it becomes a fledgling. You may occasionally find this bird on the ground near a nest, hopping around awkwardly. Fledglings have flight feathers but are learning to fly and still depend on their parents for food.

-Branchers: Young birds that have left the nest and perch on a branch near the nest as parents bring them food.

Remember, bird families are a beautiful sight to behold and a symbol of life’s continuation, so take time to observe and appreciate them—from a distance!

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