Why Do Birds Leave Their Nest Before They Can Fly?

Why Do Birds Leave Nest Before They Can Fly

It might seem counterproductive to us, to push the very children you wish to keep safe out of your homes. But birds’ nests are not the safe, cozy heavens like our homes are for us. 

It is rather a very precarious play with time until when a predator spots the nest and makes the group loud and open-mouthed babies it’s lunch.

Thus it is not cruel or unusual but crucial for parent birds to ensure that their newly born fledglings are kept safe and sound. 

Parent birds work around the clock to ensure that the fledglings are able to withstand the pressures of this new and extraordinarily dangerous world by themselves. 

But the specific time period based on different factors – as fledglings who can or cannot fly, who are trained and are not trained – varies from species to species.

So let’s get into Why Do Birds Leave Nest Before They Can Fly?

Birds Leave Their Nest Before They Can Fly Because Of Preadtors

Generally though, staying in nests for longer than absolutely necessary is just an all-around bad idea. 

Predators prowling around for their next meal will have the day of their lives if they chance upon a nest and will probably clean it all up in one go.

So one main factor that decides the time period is predation. As mentioned before, the role of predators in this phenomenon is huge. 

This is even truer for those birds whose enemies are closer, or for those who have nests built-in more vulnerable spots, like open-cup nests on the ground or low levels of ground. 

On the other hand, other species of birds, like those who make their nests in the cavities of trees enjoy a much lesser rate of predation and thus don’t mind if their young ones hang around a little while longer.

Two great examples of both of those cases can be found in the family of birds called Songbirds. 

Species like juncos and towhees are songbirds that build open-cup nests on the ground or low and near the ground, and thus have much higher rates of predation.

As a result, The species have evolved wherein the young learn very quickly to deal with this imminent environmental threat and leave the vulnerable spot pretty quickly. 

But chickadees, who also belong to the same family but are cavity-nesting birds, have a much lesser chance to be caught unaware and thus belong to the latter category!

How Long Do Birds Stay In Their Nests Before They Fly Away?

There is, of course, no one timing across all birds and this time period varies vastly from species to species. 

Birds have evolved on the basis of their predation to have different physiological mechanisms in-built as they are born and thus this time period is determined by a combination of these factors.

Some young birds who are born with their down feathers might be up and on the get-go as soon as they are out of the eggs. 

Some examples of such birds are baby ducks or baby glovers who take flight alongside their own parents, mere hours after they have hatched out of their eggs. 

Some others are even faster and much more eager to make their debut flight, doing so minutes after they hatch. Some examples of these are baby quails, wild turkeys, and sandpipers.

On the complete opposite of the spectrum, we have big birds like owls, hawks, and eagles who take their sweet time developing and leaving home. 

Bald eagles are a species that stay in their nests for 98 days! – That’s more than 3 months! 

The main reason for this should be apparent if you have read this far. 

That’s right, they have zero predation and are, in fact, apex predators, so there is rarely an enemy waiting to pounce on the little ones and thus they can take their sweet time.

How Does A Bird Know When To Leave Their Nest?

The time when the young birds are made to leave can be described as an evolutionary negotiation between the baby birds who would like to stay as long as possible.

And parent birds who want their babies out and flying about as soon as possible, so as to put them in a less vulnerable position. 

They carefully look into the pros and cons of staying longer and leaving earlier and these factors are taken into careful consideration as they figure out the optimal time for the baby birds to bid their goodbye.

A big factor that plays into this decision is the amount of threat they are under.

Baby birds who are born in nests situated in more vulnerable spots have evolved to flee much earlier as they are threatened much more by predators. 

On the other hand, it is completely different for those who have higher nests and have a lesser number of predators.

Can A Fledgling Survive On Its Own?

Fledgling is a very specific phase of a bird in its early life.

It is crucial to understand the difference between a hatchling, which is right after it has hatched, a nestling, which is when it is staying in the nest for further development, and finally, the fledgling which is when the bird grows feathers and can fly. 

Unlike hatchlings and nestlings, fledglings have the ability to survive on their own. Fledglings have amazing instincts, especially with wild birds.

If they have a little bit more experience, they might even recognize the call of their flock and fly to them!

In Conclusion

So that’s how that works! Birds aren’t heartless creatures after all, huh? They are just looking out for their young ones the best way they know how to. 

We hope we eased some of your concerns and that you learned something about the fascinating world of birds today!

Thank you for reading!

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