how birds feed their babies

What goes in must come out

Okay, people. Quit whining about having to change diapers; some bird parents even consume the waste that their tiny hatchlings produce! Fecal sacs must be removed from babies IN THEIR BEAKS!

how birds feed their babies

In this instance, one wren parent is carrying insect food into the nest while the other is removing a fecal sac.

how birds feed their babies

Additionally, they carry them away from the nest so that predators won’t notice them when they drop them out of the nest box hole. Often, they have a preferred location for dumping these fecal sacs.

For instance, they once dropped them on this dogwood branch of a pagoda. And one year it was in our driveway. Oh, well….

how birds feed their babies

This system works remarkably well.

Nests are remarkably clean when you see them after the babies have flown.

how birds feed their babies

… except in this birdy version of toilet training. Sometimes the older nestlings, such as these three wren babies, just turn around and poop out the hole, covering the front of the nest box in bird droppings!

Although I didn’t witness them “in the act,” the outcomes are visible.

Naturally, this wouldn’t be as evident in a cavity nest situation in the wild.

See more birds feeding insects to their babies

Here are some additional images of birds feeding their young insects:

In tough times, bird parents ignore cries of hunger and feed the healthiest chicks

how birds feed their babies

Though the adage “the early bird gets the worm” has been around for a while, recent research has revealed a new proverb: the scrawny chick frequently goes hungry.

“Turf Guy” Andrew Hebda discussed a recent study that examined how mother birds distribute their worms among their offspring on CBC’s Mainstreet.

“There’s no problem if everything is equal and there’s food,” Hebda, a biologist at the Halifax Museum of Natural History, stated.

“However, mother birds search for alternative signals if food becomes scarce.” Stated differently, they assess who is more likely to survive under these circumstances. “.

The study, recently published in Nature, found that mother birds may choose to neglect begging chicks in favour of larger, healthier chicks.

“Surprisingly . in a quarter of species studied, parents ignore begging chicks. Additionally, parents in some species even feed the largest chicks who beg the least and ignore smaller chicks who beg more,” the study’s authors write.

It’s brutally practical: the mother bird increases the likelihood that its genes will be passed on by sacrificing the weak to feed the strongest.

Mother birds use indicators of health, like size and color of the beak, to determine which young to feed.

FAQ

How does a mom bird feed her babies?

The answer is that most mother birds eat food and then regurgitate it for the babies. They often feed their babies insects so that they can get more protein and grow healthy.

How do baby birds feed?

That typically includes things like insects, seeds, and earthworms. When a bird parent hunts for food to feed its young, it will find and eat insects, worms, or seeds. Then, the bird will regurgitate what it just ate. This softens the food so they can feed it to their babies.

Do birds chew their food for their babies?

Parent bird species including Psittacines (hook-billed birds such as parrots, cockatiels, and parakeets) and Passerines (such as canaries, finches), regurgitate their food from their crop to feed their chicks.

Do baby birds drink milk from their mother?

Bird Milk. Like mammals, the young of some birds are fed on special secretions from a parent. Unlike mammals, however, both sexes produce it. The best known of these secretions is the “crop milk” that pigeons feed to squabs.