How does a parent bird feed its young chicks?
Newly-hatched altricial chicks are born featherless, blind, and helpless.
Chicks open their eyes after about four days. They take time to gain all of their feathers. Initially, the down feathers make young chicks look fluffy. They sit close to their parents to keep warm and safe.
During this time, young chicks stay in the nest. Adult birds look after and feed their young – sometimes, just the mother, sometimes just the father, and other times both the mother and father look after their chicks.
Young chicks, called hatchlings, sit with their beaks wide open, waiting to be fed. The parent flies off to find food. The parent eats the food or has the food in its mouth. When they return, to pass the food from parent to baby, the parent puts its beak into the baby’s open beak and down their throat.
For birds that have long beaks, such as the Hadada Ibis, the young chick puts its beak into the parent’s mouth to take the food.
This is called regurgitation.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM