May 10, 2001: Happy Birthday Again!

The first feathers to grow on these babies are called down feathers. Down is fuzzy and warm, but doesn't look like real feathers yet! Also, notice how these feathers don't cover the birds' entire bodies. They only grow in special areas called feather tracts. The very first feathers grow on the back because the tummy and sides are pressed tight against the nest and the other nestlings. The back is the place where insulation is most important on a nestling.

Q. What is a reason why most birds don't grow feathers over their whole bodies but only in tracts?

Photo by Julie Brophy

Discussion of Previous Questions

Q. What three things do these two newly hatched baby robins already know how to do?

They know how to

  • Sit very still when their parents are away
  • Pop up and open their mouths to beg for food the moment their parents return
  • Poop as soon as they swallow some food.

Q. How can the nest and other babies stay clean when one baby robin poops?

Healthy nestlings produce poop that is encased in a fecal sac, that works like a disposable diaper bag and keeps all the poop inside! To learn more, look at Journey North's Fecal Sac Lesson

See the next Robin Nest Photo Lesson and discussion of today's questions.