BIRDS FEEDING THEIR YOUNG
YOU will find it very interesting to peep into nests and
see which birds are naked and which are downy, which
can see, and which are blind.
By the river the little Water-hens come out of the egg
as black fluffy balls with red heads, and swim away at
once after their mother. But Kingfishers come out of
the egg naked and helpless. They have to wait till
their feathers have grown, before they can leave the
nest, and meanwhile their mother feeds them with fish.
Then if you see a young Owl in its nest in a barn, or
pick up a young Hawk which has fallen out of
 a tree, you will find that they are quite blind and
helpless, though they are covered with down. Their
mothers have to bring them insects, mice, and young
rabbits till they are full-grown.
Those of you who live by the seaside know quite well
the Gulls which fly out to sea and float on the waves.
In the spring and early summer you may hear the young
gulls, called Sea-mews or Kitti-wakes, mewing like
kittens on the ledges of the cliffs. They are calling
to their parents to feed them (see picture,
SEA GULLS AND YOUNG.
For though these young gulls can see and are covered
with down, they are born so high up on the cliffs that
they must sit and wait till they are strong. Even then
they can only creep along the ledges till their wings
are full-grown. They sit there with open beaks, crying
to be fed, and the old sea-birds bring fish for them to
eat. The common gulls, and the herring gulls,
generally lay their eggs on islands, and the little
ones swim about when they are only a few days old.
Or, if you live far, away from the sea in the depths of
the country, you will enjoy seeing the other kinds of
birds feeding their young ones in the trees and in the
hedges. Sometimes the mother does all the work, and
sometimes the father takes his share.
OWL FEEDING HER LITTLE ONES.
Mr. Kearton, who knows so much about birds, tells us
that he once helped in the feeding. One day he watched
a mother Chiff-chaff bringing food to her five little
ones in a nest under a thorn-bush. Chiff-chaffs are
very small, graceful birds.
 Their back and wings are a kind of dull olive green
colour, and their breast a yellowish white. The mother
was bringing in caterpillars and flies, about four or
five every five minutes, and she popped them into the
little beaks stretched to reach them. As she worked,
her mate flew first to one bough, then to another
singing "chiff-chaff, chiff-chaff."
Mr. Kearton thought he would help the little mother.
He collected some green caterpillars, and put them on
the edge of the nest while she was away. Then he knelt
down a little way off.
The mother flew to and fro at her work and looked at
him as she passed, but he did not move. At last she
picked up the insects he had brought and divided them
among the little mouths. Then she flew away for more.
That little mother worked all day long, only resting
for half an hour in the afternoon. She not only
brought food, but also cleaned the nest between each
journey, picking out the pellets of dung, and making
everything clean and neat. I think she must have been
very glad of the little heaps of insects which her
friend put near her nest from time to time.
Tomtits are such bold little birds that you may often
see them going in and out of a hole in some wall, or a
tree stump, with insects in their mouths. The father
and mother Tit both help in feeding (see p.
36). They go out and come back together, laden
with caterpillars, and after giving them to the young
ones they start off again, calling to each other as
 We had some young Robins once which were fed by three
birds. They were born in the hedge of our garden. We
called the third bird the uncle. He worked quite as
hard as the other two. By-and-bye the old robins flew
away. But the young ones stayed with us all the summer
and used to hop about the dinner table and pick up the
Blackbirds feed their baby-birds with large worms,
which they pull to pieces, giving a bit to each. The
jay looks as if she brought nothing, but she pours the
food from her crop into the mouth of the little one.
The mother pigeon throws the food up from her crop into
her mouth, and the little pigeon puts its beak in at
the side of its mother's beak and sucks out the food.
Most parent birds go on feeding the little ones for
some time after they can fly. You may often see little
sparrows or thrushes sitting in a row on a bough while
the mother pops the food into their beaks. She begins
at one end and goes quite fairly from one to another,
each in its turn.
Watch for birds feeding young in the spring.
Thrushes, sparrows, robins, tomtits. 1. In the nest.
2. Sitting on branches. 3. Small birds feeding a young
cuckoo. 4. Young pigeon taking food from the