Parental duties for birds are almost never-ending. After selecting a site, building a nest, laying eggs, brooding eggs, feeding and cleaning up after nestlings, comes the ongoing chore of feeding fledglings. This Western Kingbird parent has caught a good size preying mantis insect to feed it’s offspring.
Open wide! This young kingbird is ready. Nature has colored it’s mouth a bright orange so parent birds have an easy target to put the food.
It actuality took several minutes for the parent bird to get the preying mantis insect inserted properly into this fledgling bird’s bill.
The parent bird watches intently as the baby bird woofs the large insect down. This parent bird might be saying, “now, eat it all so you can grown up to be a big bird like me.”
Almost all gone, just the two hind legs of the insect stick out of the young bird’s beak while the parent bird continues to watch, making sure every bit is consumed.
Just as soon as the baby bird finishes this meal, the parent bird is off to find more food to feed this and the two other fledgling birds that wait nearby to be fed. And within seconds of finishing off that large insect meal, this baby bird is signaling it is hungry again. While I watched, the parent bird brought another large preying mantis insect that it fed to this very hungry baby bird.
Did you notice that this baby bird’s tail is quite a bit shorter than the parent’s tail? Baby birds are as large, or almost as large, as their parents when they leave, or fledge, from the nest but their tails are often noticeably shorter–a good clue that the bird you see is a baby bird.
What have you watched a parent bird feed to it’s offspring?