Baby birds have got to be some of the cutest and most adorable creatures on the face of the planet. They are exceptional in a lot of ways; this includes their peculiar behaviors and habits.
They use particular sounds to call for attention, and they have unique behaviors they exhibit when they want food.
Baby birds are camouflaged for their protection, and they have soft down feathers meant to keep them warm.
Baby birds have special names depending on the species. Getting acquainted with these names or terms can help bird lovers refer to a particular baby bird appropriately.
It also helps with specific identification when reaching out to bird rescue centers or birding institutions. An added benefit is to know for leisure, especially when the topic of conversation is about birds.
Multiple generic names can refer to all kinds of baby birds. It doesn’t matter whether they are offsprings from ducks, raptors, shorebirds, or songbirds. “Chick” is the most common generic name for a baby bird.
It covers the description of all species of baby birds from the moment it is hatched, till it is weaned or independent. Aside from chicks, many other generic names can be used for baby birds of different growth stages.
Generic names of baby birds
A hatchling is a newborn baby bird that is yet to have more than sparse down, maybe yet to open its eyes or even being able to care for itself. This term is most often used to refer to altricial chicks that are born almost naked. The human equivalent for this is a newborn infant.
A nestling is a young bird that is a couple of days old and already covered with fluffy down. These birds are more energetic and attention-seeking but are far from ready to care for themselves. They may start developing feathers for flight but cannot leave the nest or go about without parental care or supervision. The human equivalent for this is an infant who has begun to crawl.
A fledgling is a young bird that has grown the majority of its feathers for flight and is almost ready to leave the nest. These young birds may still depend on parental care or supervision for some time after actually vacating the nest. These birds are awkward and have no experience. They cannot adequately execute flight but may hop around heartily. The human equivalent for this is a toddler.
A juvenile is a bird that has grown beyond the most awkward stages of youth but is still yet to be a mature adult. Juvenile birds may be similar in physical appearance to adults but still exhibit some of the camouflage of their youth. Their field markings may not be as distinctive as that of mature birds.
A subadult bird is a bird that is immature but has departed from the nest and is completely on its own. It has not yet attained sexual maturity and lacks all the definitive field markings of adults. In the case of larger birds such as gulls and eagles, it could take a lot of years to fully attain maturity. The plumage stages of the subadult can be puzzling for many birders to recognize.
Baby bird names for specific birds’ families
- Chicken: The young one is called a poult. The male young is called the cockerel while the female young is called a pullet
- Crane: The young is called a colt
- Dove: The young is called a squab or squeaker
- Duck: The young is called a duckling
- Eagle: The young is called an eaglet
- Flacon: The young is called an eyas
- Goose: The young is called a gosling
- Grouse: The young is called a cheeper or squealer
- Sandpiper: The young is called a peep
- Swan: The young is called a cygnet or flapper
- Turkey: The young one is called a poult. The male young is called jake, while the female young is called a jenny
- Guineafowl: The young is called a keet
- Loons: The young is called a loonlet
- Owls: The young is called an owlet
- Puffin: The young is called a puffling
However, the exact names for these baby birds aren’t relevant. These names tend to mesh with each other in a way.
For instance, the offspring of a bald eagle is called eaglet but, so is the offspring of a Steller’s sea eagle.
To identify the differences between both eaglets, terms such as “bald eaglet” and “Steller’s sea eaglet” may be used. Both birds can also be called by their species, making use of a more generic name such as “bald eagle chick”.
What to do when you sight a baby bird?
Sighting baby birds can be an exciting experience, and their adorable behaviour is designed to attract the attention and empathy of their parents.
These behaviours have the same effect on humans. However, the best course of action to take when you sight a baby bird on its own is to let it be.
Even if the bird seems neglected or abandoned, they are rarely that way for long. But if you sight the young of an owl, dove or pigeon, swan or chicken, you should do the following:
- Maintain your distance: You should stay away because approaching the bird will cause it more stress. It may also stop its parents from coming back periodically to care for it. If you get too near to a baby bird, you may also frighten it into moving to a less comfortable and more dangerous area
- Don’t feed it: It can be alluring to want to feed a baby bird, but these birds have very particular dietary requirements. So feeding them foods meant for mature birds such as bird seeds, fruit, worms, and nuts can choke them. It can also prevent them from getting adequate nutrition they require for growth and development
- Have the area secure: Ensure pets and small children remain inside the house. Don’t do anything that could attract attention to the baby bird and make it more prone to predators. If the area is not safe, gently move the baby bird to a safer location, such as the undergrowth of a dense bush where it will be properly hidden and shielded from the hot sun rainfall.
- Reach out to a rehabber if necessary: If the baby bird seems sick, wounded, in distress, or if the parents are yet to return in a couple of hours to care for it, reach out to a bird rescue institution so the baby can get the proper care.