Baby Birds Everywhere!

The month of July could easily be termed “Baby Bird Month”, there are fledgling birds all over the place right now! This can be a really fun time, as in some cases, normally elusive birds have to come out of hiding to feed and take care of their young. Young birds are naive and inexperienced and will often times sit out in the open and make lots of begging calls.  The parents are busy gathering food for the loud, obnoxious chicks and sometimes they have to leave them alone. This is an opportunity for the birder to observe birds at close range. Of course, extra care should be taken not to disturb young families. Finding a nest can be fun to see, but it can also lead a predator to a nest site. And if you find a young bird that appears to have been abandoned, chances are the adult is close by and diligently tending the young bird. If a bird has obviously fallen out of a nest it’s OK to put the bird back in the nest, recent research has revealed that human scent on a nestling won’t cause the adult bird to desert their young.
Northern Flicker, fledgling

Northern Flicker, fledgling

Some young fledglings haven’t grown tail feathers yet, like this Northern Flicker.
Barn Swallow fledlings

Barn Swallow fledlings

 These recently fledged Barn Swallow were keeping their parents busy.

Common Goldeneye with ducklings

Common Goldeneye with ducklings, photo by Alice Hill

You can see that this duck has been appropriately named, her “goldeneye” is very prominent.
Common Mergansers

Common Mergansers

Common Mergansers are fish eaters, like Common Loons, but they have much larger broods, they even take on the task of babysitting chicks of other females. Mergansers are cavity nesters, meaning they will use old woodpecker holes and they will even use nest boxes intended for Wood Ducks. The Merganser chicks leave the nest hole within a day or so of hatching. The mother protects the chicks, but she does not feed them. They dive to catch all of their own food. They eat mostly aquatic insects at first, but switch over to fish when they are about 12 days old. (from Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds)
Common Merganser family
Common Merganser family

And like Loons, the babies will ride on the adult’s back for protection. These chicks are kind of big and one lucky one is riding on her back. When the chicks are smaller, they’ll all try to ride up on her back!

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