Say “aah”

There are a few easy ways for baby juncos to distinguish me from their parents. For example, their parents have feathers and dark heads and are about their size, while I am a gigantic fabric-draped Godzilla monster. However, hungry chicks seem to not always be alert to such nuance, so I’ve accumulated quite a few photographs of the view down the gullets of baby juncos.

SEAL and NORA's chicks

SEAL and NORA’s chicks

In the above photo you can see how the bright pink/red of the mouth, surrounded by the yellow bill outline, makes an obvious target for a parent with food.

Mostly, though, I just like how these photos make the chicks look even more like crazy pink alien beings than usual.

INGA's chicks

INGA’s chicks

2013_hungry_URes

YALI and GABI's chicks

YALI and GABI’s chicks

The gape is also pretty good for size comparison. The nest below has one chick that is a bit smaller than its siblings, and you can see easily here which of the two gaping babies is the runt:

YYAG and MONA's chicks

YYAG and MONA’s chicks

Sometimes the chicks get a little overenthusiastic.

The chick on top seems to be winning the gaping-the-highest competition here, but his sibling wasn't about to let THAT happen. The lower chick tried to stand up...

The chick on top seems to be winning the gaping-the-highest competition here, but his sibling wasn’t about to let THAT happen. The lower chick tried to stand up…

...and fell over backwards. Check out those flailing feet.

…and fell over backwards. Check out those flailing feet.

So he just gaped anyway, while lying on his back.

So he just gaped anyway, while lying on his back.

Finally, here’s my favorite sequence from the season:

SEAL's and NORA's chicks all gaping

SEAL’s and NORA’s chicks all gaping

Closer view of two of them.

Closer view of two of them…

...and the one on the left decides he's going to eat the stalk of the corn lily that has been over his nest for literally his entire life.

…and the one on the left decides he’s going to eat the stalk of the corn lily that has been over his nest for literally his entire life.

Good luck with that, dude.

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5 thoughts on “Say “aah”

  1. These photos suggest the nestlings keep their mouths open for quite a long time–2-3 seconds. True? I remember a baby robin who’d always close his bill again just as I tried to drop eggy dog-food sliver into his gape.

    • The little chicks do keep their bills open for a while. I think the robin was older than the chicks shown here; the older junco chicks seem to know we aren’t birds, and almost never gape at us. The robin may have been conflicted between hunger and a suspicion that we weren’t really her proper food providers, and so gaped a little but not so enthusiastically.

  2. I just noticed something inside the chick’s mouths that looks like a flange designed to make sure they can’t push food out of their mouths, or to keep it from bouncing out. I see little pointy ridges with white tips: maybe that also helps the parent bird get the bug in the right place?

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