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How Long Does a Bird Stay in Its Nest? The 4 Stages

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The nesting of garden birds has been underway since March, even a little earlier. Do you know how long a bird stays in its nest? The bird builds its nest before reproducing and laying its eggs. It needs time to go through the various stages of nesting, including nest construction, species reproduction, egg laying, incubation, feeding the nestlings, and finally their first flight towards independence.

First and foremost, it is important to adopt the right behaviors to avoid scaring wild birds and destroying their natural habitat. Take care of your green spaces as best as possible this summer. That’s why there is a Japanese proverb that says, “A bird never builds its nest on a bare tree.” Birds want to feel safe, they seek calmness, and they stay away from noise and wind. “To live happily, let’s live hidden,” a French fable confirms that the nest should be hidden in a leafy tree, otherwise you won’t see it. What inspiring poetry! There is a time for everything: a time to build, a time to reproduce, a time to grow, a time to learn, and a time to mature. Let’s discover here the daily life of a bird that builds its nest, not for itself, but for its young.

How Long Does a Bird Stay in Its Nest The 4 Stages

1. The Time of Nest Construction and Bird Reproduction

When we talk about nest construction, we refer to the bird’s nesting. It is a vital period that precedes the breeding season of the species.

Collecting the necessary natural materials to build the nest is a laborious task. The bird gathers twigs, grass, lichen, straw, feathers, hair, and mammal fur—anything it can find in the harsh and wild nature. This phase lasts from 2 to 4 weeks depending on the species and size of the bird.

For example, a small bird like a tit, a sparrow, or a finch will take 10 to 15 days to build its nest. Larger birds like the thrush, blackbird, or dove spend 3 weeks doing so, and woodpeckers dig their nest into a tree trunk for a month.

After the nesting phase comes the period of courtship and bird reproduction. For 5 consecutive months, from March to July, birds mate and reproduce, a matter of animal survival!

How Long Does a Bird Stay in Its Nest The 4 Stages

2. The Time of Incubation and Hatching of Eggs

Garden birds can lay 3 to 5 eggs. When the female lays her eggs, she must incubate them for 12 to 28 days depending on the species and protect them from predators. Unfortunately, her future offspring are not safe from birds of prey, rodents, felines, or foxes.

The nestlings hatch after an average of 10 to 20 days of incubation. Using their egg tooth, a small pointy protrusion at the tip of their beak or snout, the young birds break through their shells to free themselves. All oviparous animals possess this tiny pointed growth, which disappears within 24 hours after hatching.

How Long Does a Bird Stay in Its Nest The 4 Stages

3. The Time of Nestling Feeding and Development

Garden birds are born naked, blind, and dependent—they are called altricial nestlings. Nestling birds, on the other hand, are covered in down, feathers, and are able to move to find food within a few hours. This is the case for chicks, ducklings, or cygnets.

Upon hatching, the altricial nestling is completely dependent on its mother for at least 15 days. It cannot survive on its own. As soon as it chirps and opens its beak, the bird provides crop milk, a protein-rich substance secreted by the reproductive hormones, both in the father and the mother. After several days of being fed, the nestling switches from the mush to a more solid meal, pre-chewed by the parents.

Gradually, growth occurs, the down is replaced by feathers after 4 weeks, and the bird becomes stronger and eventually outgrows its nest.

4. The Time of Independence When the Bird Leaves Its Nest

The first wing flutters unfold slowly. There’s pushing and shoving in the nest… The nestling wants to follow in the footsteps of its parents, searching for food outside the nest. It attempts its first flight, falls from the nest, and chirps even louder. Once again, it needs its mother to feed it and swallow a few worms or seeds.

Several weeks have passed since their birth. Generally, the bird will be completely independent after one month. Just like a baby, each one develops at its own pace. It takes some time to have well-developed little legs, fully feathered plumage, and to be able to hop and fly like the adults.

In Summary! To know how long a bird stays in its nest, be observant and equip yourself with binoculars and patience. The countless comings and goings of our feathered friends are quite an achievement. There are nearly 1,500 round trips for the bird that builds its nest. Some birds organize and share this heavy responsibility between the male and female. You can help them by trimming your hedge or shrubs as late as possible and by hanging a nest box, a feeder, and a birdbath in your garden. Feel free to explore other blog articles about garden birds and their way of life.

mahatma gandhi portrait

- Mahatma Gandhi

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

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