The Story of Baby Birds
Educational material to learn about baby birds
The Story of Baby Birds
- The Nest:
Some birds make their nests on tree branches or in bushes. Others nest on buildings or in chimneys. A few will even nest in unused boats or cars! Certain birds such as woodpeckers raise their babies inside hollow trees.
Wild birds use many different building materials to make their nests strong and comfortable. Some birds use twigs, while others use grass, mud, feathers, and even human hair.
It takes 1-2 weeks to build the nest. After the nest is done, the mother bird lays one egg each day for 4-5 days. The parents take turns sitting on the eggs to keep them warm. The eggs hatch in 10-14 days.
- The Hatchlings and Nestlings:
Most young birds ask for food by opening their beaks and peeping. This is called "gaping" or "food begging." The parents put food into the babies' mouths. Each type of bird eats a different food. Some eat bugs, some eat berries, and some will eat seed when they are older. The adults know just what to feed the babies.
Soon their eyes open and feathers start to grow, and then the babies are called "nestlings." The new feathers are called "blood quills" or "pin feathers." These new feathers look like shiny blue tubes. The nestlings' tails are just starting to grow and are less than 1/2 inch long.
- The Fledglings:
The fledglings hop on the ground and call to their parents to be fed. It will take the fledglings a few days to be able to fly up to low branches. It will take two weeks for them to learn to feed themselves.
The parents show the young how to find food and what to eat. The adult birds make loud noises to warn the fledglings when danger is nearby.
- The Juveniles:
BELOW PLEASE FIND SOME TIPS FOR EMERGENCIES AND SELF HELP
Tips for emergencies
- If you find a baby bird:
When a baby bird falls from a nest and you can reach the nest, you should put it back. Be certain that it is the right nest. Make sure that the baby is healthy and not hurt.
Watch from a distance to see that the parents feed the nestling after you put it back into the nest.
A healthy nestling should feel warm. It should be active and alert, and have bright eyes. The tail will be less than 1/2 inch long. Baby birds are always ready to eat and may even beg to you for food!
If you find a healthy fledgling on the ground, you should keep people and pets away from it. A fledgling has more feathers and a longer tail than a nestling. It should be able to hop well. Hide and watch to be sure that the fledgling is being fed by its parents about every 30 minutes.
Please note: children should not handle wildlife. If you are a child who has found a baby bird outside of its nest, please get a grown-up to help you.
- How to Make a subsitute nest:
Punch drainage holes in the bottom of a large plastic bucket. Place the nest and the babies in the bottom of the bucket. If you don't have the old nest, or if the old nest is wet, put twigs and dry leaves under the babies. Secure the bucket close to where the original nest was by nailing or wiring it in place.
The bucket should be at least 5-6 feet from the ground, and not in direct sun.
Then hide and watch to make sure that the parents feed the young birds. If the adults don't come for 3-4 hours, or if the babies are hurt, they will have to be raised by a Wildlife Specialist.
- What to do if the babies are hurt OR if the parents are gone:
When you find a baby bird that is hurt or has not been fed by its parents for 3-4 hours, you should call a Wildlife Specialist.
Licensed Wildlife Specialists or Wildlife Rehabilitators know how to help wild baby birds that are hurt or sick. Rehabilitators also know how to raise baby birds if the parents are gone.
You can find the names of rehabilitators or wildlife clinics by calling the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, the Audubon Society, and most veterinarians.
Until you can get the bird to help, keep it quiet and warm on a towel in a box. Never give water or milk to a baby bird.
You should not try to raise the baby wild bird yourself. It is against the law to keep wild birds. They can die or be harmed by the wrong food or incorrect handling. Some may need medicine, or to be in an incubator. Most wild baby birds must be fed every 15 minutes for 12-16 hours a day!
- How you can help prevent problems for the birds:
Keeping cats indoors, especially during the day in the spring and summer will save many birds.
By waiting until fall to remove bushes or dead trees, you can help a nest of baby birds to fledge.