Young Bird Fledglings Experience Life Away from the Nest
This summer, parents across the country will spend countless hours with their children, taking them to places they’ve never seen before. The same can be said for the millions of wild bird families that will be introducing their young fledglings to a whole new world of experiences.
People who only feed the birds during the winter miss out on many fun and fascinating wild bird "family" activities. By mid-spring and throughout much of the summer, fledglings leave the nest and continue to be fed by their parents, while also being taught to eat from feeders. Watching this fun and fascinating activity is one of the true payoffs of the bird feeding hobby.
Here are some characteristics and behaviors to look for when watching these fledgling birds as they begin to leave the nest:
- Fledglings are about the same size as adults, but often their plumage color is muted and similar to adult females.
- In some species, fledglings' tails are shorter than the adults', because the tail feathers are still growing. A recent research study demonstrated that supplemental bird feeding provides a direct nutritional benefit that supports higher-quality feather growth for birds like these fledglings.
- You can recognize Downy and other woodpecker fledglings by their fresh and dapper plumage, whereas that of the adults is worn and dusky from their repeated trips in and out of the nest hole.
- Chickadee fledglings follow their parents to the bird feeder and perch nearby as the parents go to get food. They either wait, looking like they are waiting to be served, or they call incessantly "teeship teeship" and flutter their wings until fed.
- After one to three weeks, the parents stop feeding their fledglings and may even peck at them if they persist in begging for food.
Some foods are better than others for new fledglings. Insects are highly favored, so mealworms are attractive to parents feeding young. Jim’s Birdacious Bark Butter and Bark Butter Bits are also excellent as they are highly nutritious, easily carried, and easily swallowed.