Back to Reading Selection


Why don't some baby birds make fecal sacs?
Ducklings, grouse and pheasants leave their nest as soon as the babies dry off after hatching, before they ever eat anything, and usually never return to the nest. So these babies don't need to worry about their nest getting dirty! Baby raptors, herons, and some seabirds that nest on cliffs just back up to the edge of the nest or cliff to poop in a projectile squirt--this isn't as good a way of keeping the nest clean, but it works well enough.

Besides fecal sacs, what other things do parent birds carry away from nests?
  • Egg shells after the babies hatch
  • Eggs that don't hatch
  • Babies that die in the nest
  • Weird things that appear in the nest (Sometimes if a bander puts bands on the legs of nestlings, the parents will try to carry off the shiny, unfamiliar bands--with the babies still attached! So banders have to keep an eye on banded nestlings to protect them until the parents get used to the bands on their babies.)