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Once the birds have left the nest the world around them must seem enormous. Can you imagine what the little chicks must be thinking when they first see through that little hole?
Birds are called "fully fledged" when they can look after themselves. For birds like Robins and Blackbirds the parents will keep looking after the young for the next 3 weeks. It is normally the dad that cares for the chicks at this stage because the mother will be preparing to build another nest or is topping up the last nest with a fresh soft lining. Yes that's right! A Robin may have 2 or 3 broods (families) each year and a Blackbird might have 4. The better the weather the longer the birds can breed for. Remember food is everything for the young bird family. The breeding season can start in March and finish in August. Robins are very good parents, they have a strong need to feed their chicks. In fact robins have been seen feeding chicks that definitely do not belong to them - Song thrush or Blackbirds!
As we have seen from our own birdboxes the start of a bird's life is a dangerous time. Only about 40% (4 out of 10) of the eggs laid will become fully fledged (can look after themselves) birds. The low number of successful eggs can explain why our garden birds lay lots of eggs or have more than one family a year. A Blue tit or Great tit family will only have one family each year, can you think why they lay so many eggs? normally 10, but up to 16!
I love this photo - what do you think the Robin family will be saying?
The larger birds, such as seabirds, birds of prey, owls and the waders, do live a lot longer than the small birds. So, if the worst happens and their precious eggs do not survive to fledging there is always the chance to breed the next year. This another way that nature makes sure the species survives.
Feeding the young (top)
Young robins (bottom)