Baby wad­ing birds

Bird Watching (UK) - - Your Birding Month -

Sum­mer is a time when many bird­watch­ers turn their at­ten­tion to other mat­ters, such as or­chids, but­ter­flies, drag­on­flies and fam­ily hol­i­days (see James Lowen’s sec­tion on Page 12 for more on this). But it is also a time when there are baby birds around. Cute cygnets, duck­lings, young Moorhens and grebes are out on the wa­ter. Speck­led tail­less Black­birds are on the lawn, with yel­low-washed Blue and Great Tits in the trees above. Our breed­ing waders also have some de­light­ful ba­bies, which are usu­ally up and run­ning al­most as soon as they hatch, so have dis­pro­por­tion­ately long legs and strong bills, to help them feed them­selves al­most from the off. Baby waders of­ten look like mini- al­most car­toon-ver­sions of their par­ents, hav­ing stumpy mod­els of the adults’ bills. For in­stance, baby Avo­cets have a tell-tale upturn to the bill, baby Oys­ter­catch­ers have a long straight peg bill and baby Curlews have a slight down curve to their lit­tle beak. They also of­ten have fluffy plumage which echoes that of the par­ents. For in­stance, baby Lap­wings have a black breast band and white col­lar and even a sort of crest, and baby Oys­ter­catch­ers are ‘black and white’. So, make sure you look out for these de­light­ful baby birds (from a dis­tance, of course), this month.

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