We all have that soft spot for tweety birds. That yellow-feathered friend has been with us for many generations, and it looks it will continue to melt the hearts not only of little girls and boys but the adults as well. Tweety birds have been somehow associated with the ‘real’ baby birds as many are covered with that soft yellow feather during the hatching season.
The chirping sounds of baby birds never fails to make one smile. But what are baby birds called, exactly? If baby cats are called kitten and baby dog is called a puppy, what about baby birds?
There are many names given to baby birds and those names usually correspond to their stages of growth and development. There are even cross over between naming animals and our feathery pets such as fledgling, nestling and adult.
Let’s take a look at the birds many names:
They are probably the cutest bird as they are the ones that just emerged out of the egg, still eyes closed, unfamiliar with their world, and with weak legs and body. The word hatchling can also be used to describe all other animals that recently came out from the egg such as dragons!
There are other species that hatch at a particular time. Songbirds tend to hatch often, grow a set of feather faster, and fledge to look for its own food in the wild. Birds like this should be kept alone as the parent might just be teaching that important sense of ‘survival’ to their young ones.
We all know what it is -- that feathery creature, small enough to be called a chicken yet big enough to be called a bird. Chick refers to a young bird especially one newly hatched or it can be any kinds of bird that is relatively young and can’t fly yet. Sometimes, it is quite a challenge to differentiate a chick from well, a chicken. But even newborn penguins are called chick too. How rightfully confusing is that?
You got it right, it came from the word ‘nest.’ This is probably the best answer to the question what are baby birds called. Nestlings are baby birds that finally opened their eyes and are ready to take in food from their bird parents. While they can’t stand on their own yet, nestlings are usually covered in fine feathers. Nestlings are more active and at times demanding, creating that chirpy sound, begging for food. Nestlings are however more vulnerable to predators since they stay in the nest to be cared for by their bird parents.
Fledgling is technically a pattern of nestling. This is a milestone in a baby birds’ short life as it is the time for it to leave the nest. Birds in this stage have grown enough feathers and are allowed to try flying out of the nest. Usually, the parent bird observes and helps from a distance. Fledgling is the most common name given when one is asked what are baby birds called. This is because they are the ones that are small enough yet actually tries to fly out of the nest on their own or if the feathers fail, hop awkwardly on the ground.
Birds with complete feathers or in full colors are the best choice for pet lovers. A bird is called a juvenile after feathers completely covers the body. Some bird owners call them as ‘immature bird’ as they will really show the changes of feathers from zero to many. What do you call a group of baby birds depends on many factors. Birds that pass through this stage are called ‘juvenile plumage.’ A bird is no longer considered juvenile once it leaves the nest.
This is the most confusing stage. Subadults are what baby birds are called when they are old enough to fly but not yet an adult. It can be likened to pre-adolescent stage for humans – neither baby nor an adult -- the time of identity crisis. Subadult birds are immature, lack sexual maturity and lack all the aspects that comprise an adult bird even if it has already left its nest. Some types of birds, like eagles, take years to reach actual maturity.
The age of the bird is important in correctly pinpointing the name of a bird. In many cases, growing birds—even ones with full set of feathers can’t just be called adults because their maturity has to be tested first. It is therefore making it difficult to know what are baby birds called just by looking at them. If you see one and unsure about the stage of growth, ask a professional opinion from an actual ‘birder.’
But not all feathery friends follows the generic names listed above. Like people, some birds have their own unique names. Here are some uncategorized names that bring in diversity in the list of baby birds’ names.
Baby doves are called squeaker and yes, it is because they ‘squeak’ when they are calling for attention.
Remember the ugly duckling story? That beautiful swan was a duckling before it magically transformed into a beautiful adult duck with long white and strong feathers.
Eagles: Before it became the “King of Birds,” this baby bird is called an eaglet. This tiny version takes sometime to mature, gain strength and be the king that it truly deserves.
Probably my favorite feathery creature. Owls round, fierce and strong eyes even at baby stage are just amazing. The turning of feather colors from white to gray to black helps birder identify their stages of growth and development. Baby owls are called owlets and they are cute as their name.
The swans name, flapper, is just perfect. Baby swans ‘flap’ because of their short feathers. But when the flapper finally grows enough feathers and becomes a full-grown swan, it carries the most beautiful feather design in the bird family.
Of course, these unique names are used only when they are babies. Sometimes, people distinguished what baby birds are called based from the regions or locations where the bird is endemic. As example, eaglet species such as a bald eagle or golden eagle can be simply referred to as a chick to avoid confusion.
Still, no matter how many names are given to each type of bird, their flapping, their chirping, or their squeaking sound always provide that feeling of excitement for humans. So next time you go birding; add more fun to the trip by identifying what baby birds are called using the list above.