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Baby Birds

by Valerie (June 25, 2000)
revised September 6, 2003
white-winged dove

Our yard and gardens attract a lot of birds and there are enough big trees to provide nesting sites. Although I often watch hummingbirds, cedar waxwings, woodpeckers, chickadees, cardinals, titmice, bluejays, and wrens, I'm not really good at sneaking up on birds to take their photo, so the only birds that usually end up with a portrait in our album are those that are dead or not capable of flying away. Here we'll showcase the fledglings: those adorable little birds that are ready to leave the nest, but not fully feathered or skilled in getting around like birds normally do.

The first of our feathered friends is a white-winged dove (Zenaida asiatica). These birds often don't see us, or if they do, they aren't scared enough to fly away, and we can usually get quite close. They are attracted to our yard because we have several dishes of water and they are frequently evident by their loud calls or raucous mating behavior up in the trees. This youngster hasn't lost all its baby fluff quite yet, but still has enough flight feathers to get around.young mockingbird
This little mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) probably just left the nest and its parents were calling loudly from a nearby tree. I often find young mockingbirds hiding in low shrubs or flowers in the gardens; this one just happened to be standing in the middle of the sidewalk. The mockingbirds spend a lot of time hunting insects in the grass and up in the trees. They like to catch flying insects that are scared up by the lawnmower as well.unidentified fledgling

Although the last bird shown here is very photogenic, I have to admit it wasn't photographed in our yard, or even in Texas. It was seen in Florida during a camping trip and I don't have a positive identification for it. It's probably a vireo (Vireo sp.) or flycatcher (Empidonax sp.), and it was very small; only about 2½ inches long. Of course, the missing tail (which seems to be the last thing to grow out on fledglings) makes it look even more midget-like than normal. An amusing detail of many young birds is the downward turn of the inner corners of their beaks, making them appear to have a perpetual frown. Of course, they could just be dour over having to leave their nice secure nests and face the world.

Another Garden Bits article presents more on Baby Birds.

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