About us: We own a wild bird feeding supply 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.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Two basic terms describe a bird at hatching

Ornithologists use two basic terms to describe a bird at hatching: altricial or precocial. When songbirds first hatch from their egg their eyes are closed with little or no down and are still incubated and fed by the parents for weeks before they can leave the nest. They are called Altricial, deriving from the Latin atric, meaning "to nourish", a reference to the need for extensive parental care required before fledging.

The opposite of altricial is precocial. Precocial birds are well developed straight from the egg and are quickly able to stand and walk on their own. Most species of chickens, ducks, and turkeys are well developed on the day they hatch. They emerge from the egg covered in down, eyes wide open. Within two days, they are out of the nest and foraging on their own, staying near mom only for protection. The word comes from the same Latin root as "precocious."

Source: Precocial and Altricial Young http://www.stanford.edu/group/stanfordbirds/text/essays/Precocial_and_Altricial.html

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