MadSci Network: Zoology

Re: How to baby birds eat?

Date: Fri Sep 10 19:18:33 1999
Posted By: Steven Williams, Staff, Special Education, none
Area of science: Zoology
ID: 936596812.Zo

Hi Nicole,

Guess what you and your dad are both right.  Not that cartoons would be the 
most accurate place to find bird facts.  One of these links might be more 

Birds feed their young a variety of foods in a variety of ways.  It depends 
on the type of bird and the foods that are available.  You wouldnít expect 
a penguin to feed itís babies worms.  There arenít any around the frozen 
south pole.  But hey, thereís plenty of little fishes around that baby 
penguins just love.  

Why do some parent birds eat the food first?  Well, there are a number of 
reasons.  First,itís a good way to make foods that are too large or too 
hard for baby birds to eat all soft and mushy.  Itís also an economical and 
practical way to carry large quantities of food like fish, seeds or bugs 
from one place to another.  They donít have arms you know? Then when they 
get to the nest they regurgitate or throw up (yuk) the food for the babies. 

A Robin might feed its babies whole insects or worms that it finds fairly 
close to its nest. But if it has four or five babies thatís a lot of trips 
back and forth to keep the babies full. Good thing her food supply is 
close.  You can see how carrying large amounts of food in the stomach or 
crop, to regurgitate later, could be a real advantage to a mom who has to
travel several miles to find food. 

I hope this helps to answer your question.  

Steven A Williams

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