Here is the latest For the Birds column, which runs in several New England newspapers.
They grow up fast, don’t they?
I’m not even talking about my own boys, who are eating me out of house and home with their darn growth spurts. I’m talking about the other youngsters growing up on my property — the birds, or course.
Watching the activity at the birdbath recently has been an education in just how quickly birds grow. I was watching a blue jay the other day and it took me a while to realize the bird looked a little different from the blue jays I was used to seeing. Mostly around the face, the bird just didn’t look right.
It was a youngster, or a fledgling to be more scientific. It doesn’t take long before young blue jays look just like their parents. It takes even less time before they are the size of their parents. This bird was in that short in-between phase when it was the size of an adult, but didn’t quite obtain the adult plumage.
The juvenile plumage disappears quickly in most songbirds, unlike some other types of birds when it can take years. A bald eagle, for instance, doesn’t obtain its white head for four or five years. But in songbirds, it’s a matter of a few short weeks.
The juvenile blue jay I watched tried a defense mechanism Continue reading