At this time of the year, it is common for adult birds to appear at our feeders accompanied by their fledglings. When this happens, we are able to observe the young begging for their parents to feed them.
The fledglings’ parents have been feeding their young in the nest for quite some time. Interestingly, once their brood leaves the nest the adults will continue to feed young birds for anywhere from one to three weeks. During this time the young birds will make their first attempts to feed themselves. However, most fledglings would undoubtedly starve if their parents did not continue to feed them.
When a family of birds arrives at your feeding station the youngsters will sometimes perch atop or nearby a feeder waiting for a parent to feed it. However, it seems that more often than not a fledgling will perch alongside a parent that is dining on seeds or other foods. In an attempt to coax a parent to feed it, a fledgling will typically anxiously chirp at an adult while rapidly fluttering its wings. This usually does the trick and the parents succumb to their youngsters begging.
This morning I watched a family of house finches arrive at one of my sunflower feeders. Immediately the fluffy, drab youngsters began begging for food. Their irritating behavior worked and quickly the parents were placing food in the large, gaping mouths of their young.
As I watched this fascinating behavior, I said to myself, “Little guys, you had better enjoy the free lunch while you can as it won’t be long before you will be fending for yourselves.”