About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Baby birds at the feeders

Blue Jay just fledged from the nest
The best thing about feeding in the summer is watching the baby birds. Just as parents across the country will take their children on family adventures this summer, bird parents are leaving their nests to take their families out on vacation/survival training.

All this week I’ve been watching the jays. When the Blue Jay family first came to the feeders last week with their family in tow, their babies were about the size of an average apple. Little round blue fluffs of feathers followed their parents from feeder to feeder, snatching goodies from their parents’ mouths.

Big Blue Jay juvenile
Now these big, ten inch “babies” are still following their parents and giving the most pathetic cries for food, “but mom, just feed me, feed me, feed me,” flutter, flutter. No luck. They have to learn sometime and my feeders have some of the best Wild Birds Unlimited food in town. It’s irresistible and I’ve already caught some of the babies eating from the feeders between begging.

I’m also watching baby cardinals, woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, sparrows, starlings and more at the feeders trying to figure out what they were supposed to do with the food in front of them. This is the time of year when fledglings leave the nest and are taught how to forage for food by their parents. It's a fascinating interaction that is fun to observe.

The fledglings follow their parents and either wait quietly or call incessantly and flutter their wings until fed. After one to three weeks, the parents will stop feeding their fledglings and may even peck at them if they persist in begging for food.
Downy Woodpecker daddy feeding baby

You can make your backyard "bird family-friendly" by continuing to offer high-protein bird foods, such as WBU No-mess blend seed, Nyjer® (thistle), peanuts, suet and mealworms. These energy-packed foods will entice birds and their young back to your feeders so you can watch them up close. Make sure to keep all your feeders clean and also offer a water source to help them in the dog days of summer.

You can usually tell which baby bird belongs to which family based on the adult bird from which they are begging. Cardinals, one of the most sought after backyard birds in our area because they're so handsome, have some of the most ragtag looking children. Some customers are shocked by how dissimilar the babies look to the parents at first. The video below captured how even the ugliest baby is beautiful: http://youtu.be/H6h1ScdvkdU
Related Articles:
- After chickadee babies have fledged http://bit.ly/yAYbP4
- Baby Starlings are big, noisy, brown birds http://goo.gl/yHR2m
- How baby birds in a nest get their drinks http://goo.gl/q8dkv
- Feeding and Raising Bluebirds http://goo.gl/MKRPn
- How Do I Know If It's a Baby Hummingbird? http://bit.ly/IHzCSh