From Egg to Flight – Understanding the Bird Life Cycle


Do you wake up to the sound of birds in the morning?

If you do, there’s a good chance you might have seen some rare species of bird that never shows itself in the later hours of the day.

How about blending that Wonder for ‘All things that Chirp’, with some solid knowledge of these amazing Flying Vertebrates?

In this article, we propose to shed light on the Life Cycle of a Bird. Do you recall that Life Cycle of a Bird with Labels, that you were in all probability taught when you were a kid? Thanks to this blog post, you will get to ‘label’ all the bird life cycle stages in your mind, while discovering interesting nuggets of information about them.

Ready to navigate through some titbits of interesting information pertaining to the life cycle of a bird? Let’s begin!

Bird Life Cycle: Stages

The Bird Life Cycle consists of 7 stages.

  1. Egg
  2. That egg you eat every morning? Not the only kind of bird egg out there!

    For the most part, all birds begin their lives inside a hard shell that covers the developing embryo of the soon-to-be newborn bird. These eggs are incubated by the parents, until they hatch.

    Did you know that there is a bony structure that forms on the baby bird’s beak, known as the Egg Tooth? This is what the baby bird utilises, to break the eggshell and subsequently, hatch.

    Cool Fact: The Gray Partridge is known to lay around 20 eggs!

  3. Hatchling
  4. The newly hatched bird is christened with the name ‘Hatchling.’ It is characterised by its soft features, and its inability to fly. On account of its helpless nature, the hatchling naturally becomes easy prey for predators. That is why it is essential that hatchlings need intense parental care.

  5. Nestling
  6. Chicks that are a few days old and covered in soft down, are known as Nestlings. At this stage of their lives they are yet unable to leave the nest, and still reliant on their parents, for food and warmth.

    Note: Now is when you might see traces of ‘Flight Feathers.’ Moreover, their eyes might have opened, too.

  7. Fledgeling
  8. In the diagram of the life cycle of a bird with labels, this makes for one of the most interesting parts. After all, it marks the first time the bird might fly out of the nest!

    That does not mean that the fledgeling is ready to fly. Still under consideration of its parents, if at all it drifts from the nest, it is only for short distances.

    Note: This stage is characterised by Plumes that have completely developed, and some pretty solid Muscle Wings.

  9. Juvenile
  10. Finally, the stage has been set for the young bird to fly!

    The bird that is ready to leave the nest, almost looks like an adult bird itself. Furthermore, it undergoes its very first Plumage. If you’re wondering what the term ‘plumage’ means, it refers to the layer of feathers that covers the exoskeleton of the bird. The plumage at this stage is essentially soft. It gets replaced after each phase of a process known as ‘Moulting.’

    Note: Juvenile birds might be able to fly, but they are not able to breed.

  11. Subadult
  12. The subadult bird is a young bird that is older than a juvenile. However, it has still not developed an adult plumage.

    The subadult bird is not sexually mature. The age at which sexual maturity is attained in birds, varies from species to species. For instance, the house sparrow becomes sexually mature at a mere few months of age. It takes around 4 or 5 years on the other hand, for the Golden Eagle to attain sexual maturity.

    Note: The terms ‘Immature’ and ‘Subadult’ are interchangeably used by many ornithologists.

  13. Adult
  14. When we talk about Adult Birds, we are speaking of birds that are sexually mature, and are able to reproduce.

    Adult birds are characterised by a ‘full’ adult plumage. It is interesting to note that the nature of this plumage might change, according to the season. For instance, some birds can be observed to have a brighter plumage with clearer markings, during breeding season. In yet other birds like Puffins, you might notice the colour and even shape of their beaks, change.

The Life Cycle of a Bird: FAQs

Looking for some more information on the Life Cycle of a Bird? We got it all covered here, with these interesting FAQs.

  1. What is the purpose of feathers in birds?
  2. The feathers that we observe across the passage of the life cycle of a bird, are there for good reason. Their primary concern is to control the body temperature of the bird. Of course, those feathers also go a long way in assisting the bird to fly. Moreover, that bright plumage in male birds serves as a great mating strategy, enabling them to successfully woo their female counterparts!
  3. Do all birds migrate?
  4. Not all birds leave the nest to go to places that are very far away! The birds that do not migrate are known as Sedimentary Birds.
  5. An Example of Migratory Birds: The Swallow

    An Example of Sedimentary Birds: The Partridge

  6. Do birds lay eggs that are unfertilised?
  7. Yes indeed, sometimes birds lay eggs that are unfertilised. These contain genetic material of only the female parent.
  8. Note: Only fertilised eggs that possess genetic material of both parents, lead to the emergence of young birds.

  9. What is a brooding patch?
  10. The featherless skin on an adult bird’s abdomen is what constitutes a Brooding Patch. Its purpose? To provide heat for eggs to hatch, when the parent birds are incubating them.

At EuroKids we believe that it is important to teach children about the growth stages of Humans, Animals and even Birds. Not only will it help them gain more awareness of birds in general, it will cultivate a sense of empathy in them for that Feathered Tribe, too!