What Is A Baby Bird Called?

What Is A Baby Bird Called?

Have you ever wondered what the correct name for a baby bird is? Well, there are a few different terms to know, and each applies to a different stage of development.

Defining and understanding the avian life stages adds an extra layer of interest for bird watchers and enthusiasts, but it’s also really important for ornithologists and pet owners who work closely with various bird species.

In this guide, we explore the names and stages of baby birds and uncover some fascinating facts along the way. Let’s get started!

What is a Baby Bird Called?

While some baby birds have names specific to their species, it’s generally correct to call a baby bird a chick. This catch-all name covers the various growth stages, although it’s more accurate to define baby birds by their developmental stage.

Continue reading to learn about three important bird age groups.

The Stages of Bird Development


Baby birds that have just broken out of their eggs are known as hatchlings for their first few days. However, their degree of development at hatching varies pretty dramatically across the species, depending on their life strategy.

Precocial hatchlings, like baby chickens, are ready to walk around less than an hour after hatching. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the altricial hatchlings of songbirds are naked, blind, and barely able to lift their own head! These hatchlings rely entirely on one or both parents and may be confined to the nest for several weeks.

The recently hatched chicks of a robin, also referred to as hatchlings

The recently hatched chicks of a robin, also referred to as hatchlings


It’s not an exact science, but altricial hatchlings are known as nestlings after about their third day in the nest. These baby birds still rely on their parents for food and body warmth, although they may develop rapidly with the devoted care of their parents.

The nestling phase may last several weeks in large birds of prey, like Eagles, or just a few days in some small songbirds. During this time, the growing chicks will grow rapidly and develop a complete covering of feathers.

Birds at their nestling stage

Birds at their nestling stage


If all goes well in the hatchling and nestling phases, a chick will grow out its contour and flight feathers and begin to prepare for life in the big wide world. They will stretch and exercise their legs and wings in the nest before graduating to the next stage of their development.

A baby bird is known as a fledgling after it has left the nest. It may not be able to fly just yet, and it still relies on its parents for food during this crucial phase. Fledgling birds are often found clinging to branches near their nest or hopping along the ground.

Adult birds continue to feed their young after they have left the nest, sometimes for many weeks or even months. During this crucial phase, the fledglings must perfect the art of flight and learn how to forage for themselves.

An American Robin recently fledged from the nest

An American Robin recently fledged from the nest


Juvenile is the term that's the equivalent term for teenagers for birds. They are at a stage of their life where they are mostly capable of fending for themselves if necessary but still partially rely on their parents for food and protection.

When birds reach their juvenile stage, they will often spend a few weeks with their parents and will sometimes still beg for food. During this period, young birds will continue to learn things like hunting and catching food by watching their parents and other family members.

Juvenile birds are almost similar looking to their adult plumage, but can often still lack some of the vibrant colors or markings, found on the adult plumage.

A Juvenile Blackbird being fed

A Juvenile Blackbird being fed

Other Names for Baby Birds Across Species

Sometimes, baby birds are called by specific names that apply only to their species or family. Let’s take a look at some typical examples:

Waterfowl and Waterbirds

Birds of Prey

  • Eaglet (Baby Eagle)
  • Owlet (Baby Owl)
  • Eyas (Baby Hawk or Falcon)

Ground birds and poultry

  • Keet (Baby Guineafowl)
  • Squealer (Baby Grouse)
  • Cheeper (Baby Partridge)
  • Poult (Baby Chicken or Turkey)
  • Squab (Baby Pigeon/Dove)
  • Peachick (Baby Peafowl)

    The Importance of Proper Care and Protection

    Baby birds’ needs change as they develop from embryos in the egg to hatchlings, nestlings, and fledglings. They are fragile and sensitive during their first few days and weeks, so you should always seek help from a trained professional before interfering with wild baby birds.

    Experienced bird breeders and rehabilitators know how to feed developing chicks a healthy diet and keep them warm until they are old enough to regulate their own body temperature. Social interactions are also incredibly important, especially for baby birds destined for release into the wild.

    Chicks that interact with humans on their first day after hatching can become imprinted and fail to identify as their own species, so rehabilitators may even wear costumes or puppet gloves that resemble adult birds.

    Fun Facts About Baby Birds

    • Baby Ostriches are the world’s largest hatchlings, with chicks weighing as much as two pounds. The smallest chick in the world is probably the Bee Hummingbird. These tiny chicks hatch from a coffee-bean-sized egg.
    • Some small passerines, like White-eyes (Zosterops spp.), fledge the nest as soon as ten days after hatching, although most songbirds fledge after two to three weeks.
    • Larger altricial birds can take a lot longer. For example, baby Bald Eagles may spend over three months in the nest!
    • The precocial chicks of groundbirds are highly developed when they hatch and may begin to feed themselves on their first day. However, they rely on their parents to lead them to safe foraging grounds and show them which foods to eat.
    • Some baby birds must ‘fly’ long before growing their flight feathers. Many ducks, geese, and seabirds nest in high tree cavities and cliff ledges for safety from predators. When they hatch, the precocial chicks have no choice but to jump to the ground or water below, sometimes falling hundreds of feet!
    • Pigeons and Flamingos are very different birds, but they have something interesting in common. Both baby Flamingos and Pigeons feed on special crop milk produced by their parents.


    Just as human children develop from infants to toddlers and eventually into teenagers, birds go through various stages before they reach adulthood. Most baby birds are called hatchlings during their first few days, nestlings until they grow out their flight feathers, and fledglings when they leave the nest.

    Some bird species have unique names as babies, but if you’re ever wondering what to call a baby bird, you can’t go wrong by calling it a chick!

    Most people rarely see baby birds, although new generations hatch and fledge each spring and summer. It’s always best to leave baby birds in peace, but you can help support our young feathered friends this year by putting up a nest box or two and creating a bird-friendly habitat around your home and community.

    Enjoyed this content? Share it now

    You may also like

    Get the best of Birdfact

    Brighten up your inbox with our exclusive newsletter, enjoyed by thousands of people from around the world.

    Your information will be used in accordance with Birdfact's privacy policy. You may opt out at any time.

    © 2024 - Birdfact. All rights reserved. No part of this site may be reproduced without our written permission.