When do Baby Birds Hatch?

Please can these eggs hatch now
Please can these eggs hatch now

If you have made your garden a home for birds, you will be blessed with having birds breeding and raising their chicks near your home. Birds are very good at hiding away from predators, so it can be quite difficult to see their nests and be able to watch them as the chicks grow up. It is a little bit easier if you know when to watch them.

Let’s get back to the question: When do baby birds hatch?

Winter temperatures are terribly cold in many areas of the world and the birds would have quite a tough time keeping their chicks warm and finding food for them. Most birds lay their eggs and hatch their chicks in spring when the weather warms up. In the warmer climates this will happen a little earlier in spring than in the colder areas.

They will not breed until there is food for them and their chicks. Usually when the first flowers are out and the snow is thawing the insects will start to appear. Insects, worms and caterpillars are what the parent birds catch and feed to their chicks.

Signs to look for

A bird collecting nesting material
A bird collecting nesting material

There will be tell-tale signs to watch out for because the birds will be gathering materials to build and warm their nests. Depending on the bird, these materials could be anything from sticks and pieces of grass, to feathers and fluff for warmth. You can sometimes find the nest by watching where the birds keep going back to with their building supplies. Don't get too close because they might abandon the nest if you disturb them.

Once the nests have been built and they are happy that they are ready to keep their eggs and chicks warm and safe, then they will lay their eggs. Birds’ eggs will take anything from 14 to 28 days to hatch, depending on the bird. A robin’s egg hatches within about 14 days and some larger birds, like swans, have to keep their eggs warm for 6 weeks before they hatch.

Then they hatch...

Hungry baby birds in their nest
Hungry baby birds in their nest

Once the chicks have hatched out of the eggs they won’t have feathers yet, but will have fluff on their bodies. They still need their mother or father to keep them warm and they will never be left alone for a long time. It is important not to disturb the parents at this stage so that they do not leave the nest for too long.

You might be able to watch them being fed by their parents. The parent birds will mostly be scratching for soft foods like worms, grubs and insects to feed their babies. They will be collecting quite a lot of food during this time because they have to provide for the whole family. They will normally carry the food into a tree or bush if they are feeding chicks. If you are feeding the birds in your yard you need to make sure there are no large nuts, like peanuts, in the food. The big pieces can cause choking in the baby birds.

The chicks will only learn to fly after they have grown their feathers, this is just 2 weeks for most song birds. At this stage they are called fledglings. This is when they will start to leave the nest and learn where and how to find their own food. It is also at this time that they can easily be caught by birds of prey and cats or dogs.

Breeding time is a very interesting time to watch the birds in your yard and you can learn a lot about the different types of birds; where they nest, what they use to build their nests and what they eat and feed to their chicks.

Baby sparrows in their nest
Baby sparrows in their nest

There are some birds that will breed at any time during the year if the area is not too cold. This is true of doves. You could come across baby doves in almost any season.

Some birds migrate between north and south for the different seasons and might only visit your area and not breed there at all. I know this is true of the stalks that visit South Africa in the late spring and summer, but they breed in Europe when it is summer there.

Read my article about attracting wild birds for more information.

Have you had any birds nesting and raising their chicks in your yard? What did you learn about them during this time?

 

[pictures from PixaBay free images]

10 thoughts on “When do Baby Birds Hatch?

  1. Dee

    We have just rescued 2 tortula turcos that fell from the nest & mother then rejected when tried to put back. We are nursing them to when they are ready to fly. At a week old it is fascinating & good karma .

    Reply
  2. micci

    I have found a small nest with 5 eggs in inside a hanging plant on my porch. The birds i think are doves and they don’t seem to mind when I water the plant. I don’t want to anything to harm these birds. Will I be able to check on them. When I get close to the planter to water they do fly away but never far and then they come right back. Will watering the plant harm them at all

    Reply
    1. Post author

      I really don’t think watering your plant will harm the birds or the eggs, as long as you don’t flood the nest. If you just stick to moderate watering they should be fine. It hasn’t stopped them from building a nest there, so they should be fine with your regular visits to the nest. It will be a great experience for you to watch the babies. Enjoy yhe opportunity. Just don’t touch them with your bare hands. I am not really sure if it is true, but I have hear that parent birds will reject chicks that smell like humans (this happens after they are touched). If a baby bird does perhaps fall out of the nest (not likely, but it can happen) then just use gloves or a soft cloth to gently pick it up and put it back.
      Let us know what happens!
      If they are doves then they might appreciate some seed nearby. When the babies hatch they will need smaller seeds to feed the chicks.

      Reply
  3. Diana

    Some small song birds have built a nest in the metal awning over my porch. We are planning to replace that awning this spring or early summer. How will I know when it is safe to remove it?

    Reply
    1. Post author

      You will need to watch the movement of the birds. After they have laid eggs one of them will stay on the nest to keep the eggs warm until they hatch. They might also take turns. When the chicks have hatched (usually about 2 to 3 weeks) then you will see the parent birds bringing them food and you will probably hear the babies. Depending on the type of bird, the little ones should get their feathers and learn to fly in just a few weeks or a month and then they will leave the nest. As you keep an eye on them you will know when it is safe to replace the awning without causing them harm. Fortunately they hatch and grow quite quickly so it wont be a long wait. Enjoy the opportunity to watch what they are up to.

      Reply
  4. F S

    I have a bird sitting on a nest above my porch. It’s been there for months and it’s now almost mid August. I have seen the mother switch off w/the father keeping the nest warm. I have never heard either bird sing so I don’t think they’re considered song birds per se but my question is did the egg (s) not hatch or will it/they take longer than 4 months to hatch?

    Reply
    1. Post author

      It is very unusual for birds to sit on eggs for that long. My guess is that something has gone wrong. The longest sitting time that I know of is for swans. They sit on their eggs for 6 weeks. After the eggs hatch the birds will continue to sit on the nest for another few weeks while the chicks grow their feathers. Small birds don’t usually stay on the nest for more than 2 months at the most, including the hatching time and giving the chicks time to grow feathers.

      Reply
  5. I hardly see any baby birds where I lived and the closest experience I had was when I was doing my training in a broiler breeder farm where they have a unit for hatchery. It was all automated incubation and pretty interesting to watch so many eggs being turned around. It was a galore of chirping when all of them hatched at the same time, you can imagine.

    Reply
    1. Post author

      Hi Cathy, thanks for visiting!
      It is quite difficult to actually get to see the nests and the baby birds. they are very clever at hiding their nests and their chicks. the best is to watch the adult birds collecting food in spring and try to see where they go to.
      I can imagine all the chirping with so many chicks hatching in one place! Some years ago I raised some broiler chicks, but there were less than 100 and they still made a lot of noise.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


*