how do birds grow and develop

Once a baby bird has hatched it goes through a number of stages before it reaches full maturity. Understanding the life cycle of a bird can help with identification.

Eggs are laid by female birds in clutches ranging in number from just 1 for condors to as many as 17 for the grey partridge. They are incubated by one or both parents for a period of time until the embryo inside has developed into a chick which is ready to hatch.

A chick may have to work for hours or even days to break through the shell of its egg. Most birds have a small bump near the tip of their beak called an egg tooth to help them hatch.

A hatchling is a bird that has just hatched and may be almost completely naked apart from some fine down. Its eyes may not open and it is unlikely to be able to care for itself.

The term hatchling is usually used to refer to altricial chicks which are undeveloped and unable to move around. They will stay in the nest for some time and will rely on their parents for feeding and to keep them warm. Precocial birds such as ducks and owls are relatively mature when they are born and are sometimes able to feed themselves and leave the nest soon after.

Nestlings are chicks that are a few days old and are covered in soft down. There may be signs of flight feathers and their eyes may have opened but they will be unable to leave the nest and will still rely on their parents for food and warmth.

Chicks that have developed flight feathers and wing muscles are known as fledglings. They will have started to explore outside the nest but will still be under the care of their parents.

Fledglings are fairly awkward and only able to fly for short distances but will be active and able to hop about. The length of time it takes for a chick to fledge varies between species. For example it takes 6 months before the chicks of the great frigatebird fledge and their parents feed them for a further 14 months.

A juvenile bird is at the awkward teenage stage of being a bird. Juvenile birds will have left the nest and will be fully independent. They will be in their first plumage and can look similar to adult birds although they may be duller with less defined markings. Out in the field it can be difficult to identify a juvenile bird and for most species of birds the length of time they are a juvenile is very short.

Subadult birds are young birds that are older than juveniles but have still not developed adult plumage and are not sexually mature.

Some birds such as house sparrows will become sexually mature at just a few months whereas larger birds such as golden eagles won’t become sexually mature until they are 4 or 5 years old. The terms immature and subadult are interchangeable by many ornithologists although immature can be used to refer to any bird that isn’t an adult.

Adult birds are sexually mature and are able to reproduce. They will be in full adult plumage which may change depending on the season. Some birds have brighter plumage with clearer markings when in breeding season while in other birds, such as puffins, the shape and colour of their bills may change.

vary greatly, but let’s examine the House Wren as an example of a common passerine. In a naturally occurring cavity, the male constructs a stick nest, while the female supplies the nest lining. 3-5 days following the mating event, the first of 5-7 eggs is laid. After the first egg, incubation starts gradually and ends when the last egg is laid, at which point the brood patch has fully developed. After sitting on the eggs for 12 minutes, the female departs for 8 5 minutes to feed. Sits on eggs overnight. These times vary with ambient temperatures. The female continues to be the brooder of the young after they hatch. The younger ones are brooded less and less as their thermoregulation develops. Feeding rates to nestlings vary with clutch size. The adults go on more foraging excursions when the clutch size is larger, but each nestling receives less food.

Generally, eggs hatch in the order laid (asynchronous hatching) which results in different size young. In some species (hawks, owls, storks, crows, and hornbills), they begin to incubate as soon as the first egg is laid. Waterfowl, chickens and relatives, and songbirds begin to incubate only after all eggs are laid – synchronous hatching makes incubation and parental care easier as incubation and feeding don’t have to occur simultaneously. This is especially important for precocial birds so the young can follow parents.

Once incubation begins, no egg can withstand constant exposure to temperatures above 40 degrees or below 34 degrees. The longer the egg is incubated, the lower the surrounding temperature. The parent bird senses the egg’s temperature through its brood patch and adjusts its heat accordingly. The birds may incubate the eggs for two to three times the typical time if they don’t hatch.

Five different bird families don’t construct nests or care for their young. For instance, the South American Black-headed Duck lays its eggs in the nests of gulls, terns, rails, coots, and ibises. The most well-known nest parasite is the Eurasian Cuckoo, and different races of Cuculus canorus parasitize 125 other bird species. When it’s breeding season, a host female cuckoo locates and builds a nest or begins incubating eggs. This stimulates the cuckoo to ovulate. A few days later, the cuckoo removes one of the host’s eggs and waits for the host female to leave the nest before laying its own egg, which it does in 5-8 seconds. usually lays one egg per nest, but it can also lay 12–25 eggs, each in a separate nest. The host bird may take it, discard it, or leave the nest. The size and color of the cuckoo egg may be similar to those of the host. The baby cuckoo instinctively pushes anything that touches its back away about ten hours after hatching. The host feeds the cuckoo chicks during this three- to four-day instinct, after which the other young and eggs have vanished. Although it is not as specialized, the North American Brown-headed Cowbird parasitizes 125–150 species; its eggs do not match those of its host, and its young do not push out other eggs or young.

Incubation is defined as adding heat to the eggs. Just before incubation, the majority of birds—aside from ratites, pelicans and their relatives, and waterfowl—develop brood patches, or featherless areas, in the ventral abdominal wall. The brood patch becomes extremely temperature-sensitive and rich in blood vessels. The time between the final egg in a clutch being laid and that egg hatching is known as the incubation period. During this time, eggs need to be covered with a brood patch, though birds are allowed to sit on them without providing heat. About 204 percent of all bird families have both sexes that incubate; in 2025% of cases, only the female does so, in 206 percent of cases, only the male, in 2015 by either, and in one family (brush turkey), none

Although they can only fly short distances and are rather ungainly, fledglings are lively and able to hop around. The time it takes for a chick to fledge differs depending on the species. For instance, the great frigatebird chicks take six months to fledge, and their parents continue to feed them for an additional fourteen months.

Female birds lay eggs in clutches that can have as few as one for condors or as many as seventeen for grey partridges. Until the embryo inside has grown into a chick that is ready to hatch, they are incubated for a while by one or both parents.

Typically, altricial chicks that are immature and unable to move are referred to as hatchlings. They will depend on their parents to feed and warm them during their brief stay in the nest. Precocial birds, like ducks and owls, are sometimes able to feed themselves and leave the nest shortly after birth because they are relatively mature at birth.

Birds classified as subadults are juveniles that are older than juveniles but lack sexual maturity and have not yet developed adult plumage.

A newly hatched bird is called a hatchling; aside from some fine down, it may be nearly entirely nude. It is unlikely to be able to take care of itself, and its eyes might not open.


What are the different stage of development in birds?

There are seven stages in the life cycle of a bird. The chick is hatched from an egg, and it grows and develops into a mature bird. The nestling is the third stage in a bird’s life. The nestling is a young bird that is still being fed and cared for by its parents. The fledgling is the fourth stage in a bird’s life.

How quickly do birds grow?

Birds have an incredibly rapid growth compared to mammals. Robins, for example, fledge out of their nest at 14 days old and become independent at day 30. They reach adult size at approximately 20 to 30 days of age.

How do birds develop and lay eggs?

The ovary produces an unshelled egg which may then be fertilized by the deposited sperm. The newly fertilized egg then travels through the female, passing through several glands that add the egg white fluid (albumin) and deposit layers of shell material over the egg.