Mouths to feed. No holiday for the birds.

Young robins awaiting their next meal

Mama killdeer defending her nest in the gravel

They look like they’re flitting at random, snacking on bugs and seeds, pausing  to treat us to a song.  In reality just about every bird out there this spring is a hard working parent, labouring to feed a nest full of voracious hatchlings. Those swallows darting for insects, those robins watching for earthworms to grab, those screeching blue jays cleaning out the feeder, have three or four young ones at home crying out for more, more more!
Each youngster is trying to get the most and grow the fastest, in many cases so they can push a weaker sibling over the edge and snap up an even bigger share of the family bounty. Baby birds have huge yellow mouths to get mama’s attention and the meal she is carrying.  On long summer days, the birds are on the wing from dawn until they drop wearily into the nest at nightfall with their ravenous progeny. The carefree single life in tropical winter quarters, the adventures of migration, the social joy of flocking in the fall are pointless frivolities unless they do their bit to propagate the species.  Speed growth, powered by grubs, worms and parental doggedness, gets those nestlings on the wing. So let’s look twice and really appreciate the effort.

Gail Hamilton’s books.

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