During the first month of life, baby birds undergo a series of development stages. These stages involve hatching from the egg, developing the ability to chirp and communicate with other birds, and finally learning to fly. These developmental stages can be discussed in terms of days and weeks.
When hatching, a baby bird transitions from breathing via gas exchange through the egg surface to breathing through its lungs. Baby birds develop an egg tooth while in the egg, which is a sharp point on the upper part of its beak. The egg tooth is used by the bird to poke a hole through the egg to hatch. Immediately after hatching, the bird has no feathers, cannot open its eyes and can only lift its head to gape for food.
First Five Days
The egg tooth will begin to disappear after a few days. The bird begins to open its eyes. Small amounts of feathers will start to emerge from the skin. By the fifth day, a baby bird will have grown in length and will be able to stand on its feet. The bird will also begin to stretch its legs.
Development Between Five and 10 Days
After day five, the bird's eyes will be completely open and will be capable of producing its own body heat (thermal regulation). This means that the baby bird is able to produce its own body heat. The bird will call to its parents when hungry and needs to be fed. The bird's motor skills improve dramatically during this time. The bird can stretch its wings, yawn, climb within the nest and scratch its own head.
Development After Two Weeks
The baby bird begins to leave its nest after the 10th day. During this time, the bird will be able to hop, walk and play with its parents and siblings. The bird will also begin to vocalize even more and will sing, warble and cry out if in pain or scared.
Development Between Two Weeks to One Month
Between two weeks and one month of age, the baby bird develops the ability to fly and demonstrates an independence from the parent birds. The baby bird learns to feed itself and plays outside of the nest. Although the bird has the ability to fly, it takes the bird several weeks to learn to fly. When a bird has left the nest, but cannot fly, it is called a fledgling. Fledglings are often brought to rehabilitation centers during this time because many individuals believe that the bird has been injured. The baby bird is actually just developing the ability to fly.
jack of a bird with eggs image by mashe from Fotolia.com
Laura Ross has been writing since 2003, with her articles now appearing on various websites. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in the biological sciences from Whittier College, a Master of Science in environmental sciences from the University of California-Riverside and is pursuing a Ph.D. in environmental sciences from the University of Arizona.