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Here is an American robin fledgling.

Like sending your children off to their first day of school, there comes a time in every bird’s life to leave the nest. But bird parents have some very different concerns than if their offspring will make friends and what they’ll do with their lives. Bird life is all about survival. In fact, once a baby bird leaves the nest where it hatched, it will very quickly learn the ultimate keys to survival as a bird, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation. 

This is the fledgling stage – an essential transitional period between nestling and adulthood. Fledglings have an appearance comparable to our beloved awkward teenage phase, with legs and mouths they haven’t quite “grown into." They’re growing adult feathers with extra speckles for camouflage, but still have that downy nestling “fluff” peeking through.

They may hop, run, flutter and glide short distances, but will continue to develop their adult feathers and wing strength under the watchful eye of their parents. Parents will continue to feed fledglings on the ground before they learn to take full flight – alerting young to nearby predators with warning calls and leading them to food sources where they’ll coach fledglings on how to forage and feed on their own.  

Have you found a baby bird? Be sure to research before you intervene!

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