When Do Baby Birds Hatch?

By making your garden a home for birds, you will be able to breed birds and raise their chicks nearby. In order to avoid predators, birds are very good at hiding their nests, so watching them as their chicks grow up can be quite difficult. Knowing when to watch them makes it a little easier.

Wild Pigeon On Nest
Please can these eggs hatch now.

Now let’s get back to the original question:
When do baby birds hatch?

Birds would have a difficult time keeping their chicks warm and finding food for them in many parts of the world during the winter due to the very cold temperatures. As the weather warms up in spring, most birds lay their eggs and hatch their chicks earlier. In warmer climates, this happens earlier than in colder ones.

The parent birds catch insects, worms, and caterpillars to feed to their chicks, and they only breed when there is food for them and their chicks. When the first flowers are out and the snow is thawing, the insects will start to appear.

Signs to look for

You will notice tell-tale signs that the birds are gathering materials for their nests. There will be sticks, grasses, and feathers that they will use for warmth. 

The nest can sometimes be found by watching where the birds go with their building materials. Don’t get too close because the birds may abandon it if you disturb them.

Bird Carrying a Twig to make a nest
A bird collecting nesting material.

The birds lay their eggs once the nests are built and they feel they are ready to protect their eggs and chicks. Eggs in birds take anywhere from 14 to 28 days to hatch, depending on the species. Robins hatch their eggs within about 14 days, but larger birds, such as swans, have to keep their eggs warm for up to 6 weeks.

Then they hatch…

In the early days after hatching, chicks do not have feathers, but will have fluff on their bodies. They still need their parents to keep them warm, and they will not be left alone for long periods of time. During this stage, it is important to avoid disturbing the parents so that they don’t leave the nest too long.

The parent birds will mostly scratch for soft foods such as worms, grubs and insects to feed their babies. You might be able to watch them being fed by their parents. Since the whole family needs food, they will be collecting quite a bit during this time. 

When you are feeding birds in your yard, you should make sure that you don’t put large nuts, such as peanuts, in the feed because the large pieces can cause choking or even death to the baby birds. They will normally carry the food into a tree or bush if they are feeding chicks.

blue-throated-blue-warbler chicks hungry in the nest.
Hungry baby birds in their nest.

In most songbirds, it takes just two weeks for chicks to fly once their feathers have grown. The fledglings are the birds at this stage when they are learning where and how to find their own food and leaving the nest. It is also at this time that birds of prey and cats or dogs are able to easily catch them.

Birds are very active during breeding season, and you can learn a lot about their habits, nesting locations, nesting materials, and what they feed their chicks during this time.

If it is not too cold in that area, some birds will breed at any time of the year. Doves are one of those birds. You might see baby doves at almost any time of the year.

baby sparrows in the nest
Baby sparrows in their nest.

It is true that some birds migrate from the north to the south for the different seasons and may not breed there at all. I know this is the case with the stalks that visit South Africa from late spring through summer, but breed in Europe during the summer.

Check out our article on attracting wild birds to your garden now that you know when baby birds hatch.