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.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Family dynamics of birds

Do birds stay together as a family group? How do they recognize each other?
Birds recognize their parents easily. However after the young have been taught the basics of finding food, shelter and water, most won’t visit their parents or even stay in their natal territory. Behavior varies with different species of birds.

Ruby-throated hummingbird fathers may have several mates and never meet the children. And after the female ruby-throat has raised her offspring and they are able to feed themselves she leaves her young and starts to migrate south. The youngsters explore their new environment individually. When they are strong enough, they begin their long migratory flight to the tropics alone.

Baby woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, titmice, finches, jays and cardinals move around in a family group until the end of summer. Then the tight cohesive family units will disperse. Scientists aren’t sure what triggers the break, but the young take off suddenly in different directions. Females tend to venture farther but both sexes settle down far from their natal territory. The young hook up with other young birds new to the area and join local adults to form winter flocks. Once settled in their new territory, most will remain in the same general area for the rest of their adult lives.

Robins and bluebirds will gather together in family groups with other robins and bluebirds and spend the winter together. In the spring they disperse to find their own breeding territory and rarely visit their parents.

Crows and ravens tend to forage and move around in family units consisting of a mated pair and young from up to several breeding seasons. Young birds may help with nest building, rearing younger siblings and standing guard at nests and feeding sites. Young birds eventually set out on their own to start their own families, although some crows may stay at home for up to seven years.
Related Articles:
- The Journey North: Bird Migration Maps http://bit.ly/pbk4Eb
- How do Birds Migrate? http://bit.ly/nNCI6d  
- Most common winter birds in Michigan http://bit.ly/ow20ZD
- Bird only in mid-Michigan during the winter http://bit.ly/ojcyP7
- What birds migrate from Michigan? http://bit.ly/qa0CVU

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