Babies are special, and in the birding world, the same rings true with baby birds. Given the time of year, many nests will soon be filled with the next generation of birds in and around you backyard feeders, and favorite birding sites.
This article will serve as an educational piece, further dissecting the glossary surrounding the generic baby bird names we often talk about. As most would assume, the word “chick” is synonymous with baby birds, and is the most common term to describe a baby bird upon hatching in the nest.
Here are a few other generic terms for baby birds, in chronological order:
Hatchling: As the name suggests, this term describes a bird that has just recently hatched and has not yet opened its eyes and has no ability to care for itself.
Nestling: Chronologically speaking, this is the next stage of most baby birds behind the Hatchling stage. At this point, birds are covered in down and are beginning to get more active, but are still unable to care for themselves.
Fledgling: At this point, the bird has developed the majority of its flight feathers and is quite able to leave the nest on their own. At this stage, they have yet to master flight, and still remain quite close to their parents for protection and guidance.
Juvenile: At this stage, the birds are out of that “awkward” stage and are beginning to look more like their adult counterparts, but still display a fair amount of their baby camouflage feathers. At this point, faint field markings are beginning to display as well.
Subadult: Still considered an immature bird at this point, but are able to leave the nest and care for themselves. A subadult is not yet sexually mature and still lacks most of the identifiable field markings found in adults of their species.
If you have identified any nests around you, you can now monitor the growth of your spring babies as they mature into beautiful adults and enhance the population and activity in your favorite bird watching location!