Songbirds go through five stages of development. It is important to understand these stages in order to determine appropriate care for a bird. The stages are as follows:
- There is the "hatchling stage" which is when the bird is first hatched and has no feathers.
- There is the "nestling stage" when the bird is beginning to get feathers, but needs to be fed by the parents at the nest. The amount of feathers will vary with the age of the bird. (click here for picture)
- There is the "fledgling stage" when the bird has feathers and has left the nest to learn how to fly. This bird is generally slightly smaller than the adult bird and has a shorter tail. Look for little feather tufts (natal plumage) on the bird's head as another identifier of a fledgling. (click here for picture)
- There is the juvenile phase when the bird is an adult, but is not sexually mature. The coloration of the bird may be different than the adult bird.
- The final stage is the adult stage which is the one most familiar with the public.
All songbirds that have been in the mouth of a cat need to be evaluated by a wildlife rehabilitator. This animal requires care even if no wounds are visible due to lethal bacteria in a cat's mouth.
© 2015 Cummington Wildlife, Inc.