Have you ever wondered where the saying “growing up and leaving the nest” comes from? These cute bird photos will give you a better understanding. Seeing these birds as babies, compared to all grown-up is not only like being on an episode of National Geographic but is also just simply adorable.
While some of these birds bring a very literal definition to the term ‘ugly duckling,’ others, grow more and more awkward and ‘ugly’ with age. We will let you make that judgment yourself. Check out how all these birds transform as they prepare to leave their nest.
Cockatoo – The Awkward Baby
We think it is fair to say that this our first example of an ugly duckling. This little one starts off with some missing feathers as a baby but definitely blossoms into beauty. Let’s give a little more credit to the Cockatoo, not only are they beautiful, but they are also smart, curious and funny. Now we just feel like we’re righting a Tinder profile… but you get the point.
Cockatoos also need lots of attention, just like we do. They are actually known for destroying things if they get bored. And that’s not even the craziest part, they can actually live till around 80 years old. This seems crazy to us, especially given people do own them as pets at home. Imagine your cockatoo lived longer than you!
House Martin – The Sweet Socialite
The baby house martin almost looks like a little toy bird that could sit on a shelf. Maybe it is the glossy blue-black feathers that make the house martin so regal. These birds are actually the social butterflies of the bird world. And they often nest in colonies of several hundred birds.
A part of growing up, the house martin learns how to construct a specific type of nest. This just sounds like when we learn to do our washing and supermarket shopping for the first time! But the house martin on average can take up to three weeks to build a nest. You really wouldn’t want to have to move often when it takes this long.
Flamingo – The Confident Color
Surely we all agree that the flamingo was the ‘it’ bird of 2018 summer. Every blow-up pool toy and summer merch was covered in flamingos. And we can’t blame you, they’re so beautiful… and just cool in general. We think the coolest part is that the color of their feathers comes from what they eat!
The tiny shellfish and algae that flamingos eat have pigment in them that is absorbed by the bird. So, this means if they changed their diet and ate something else, they would lose their amazing coloring! We hope they never do, we can’t imagine them any other color.
Penguin – The Happy Feet
When we think of penguins, we can’t stop ourselves from thinking of Happy Feet. If you haven’t seen the movie, go watch it, now. Baby penguins are born when they crack through the egg that the mother has laid and left on the male’s feet to keep warm. They stay cozy this way when they are little babies too.
While these sweet like waddlers have wings, they can’t actually fly. Instead, they have adapted to using them for swimming in the ocean. Most penguins stick to the southern Hemisphere, so if you haven’t seen one before in real life, that may be why. Head to Australia and you can see them hanging around.
Falcon – The Regal Pose
We don’t know if it is just us, but baby falcons although very cute, are also kind of scary looking. We feel the best way to describe the vibe we’re getting is cute but crazy, but cute. We probably also think that because they are one of the birds that sit and hunt their prey, being a predator usually gives them scary vibes.
Falcons are even built for predator life. They have long pointed wings that make them super fast when they swoop their prey. Their beaks are hooked with a toothlike tip on the inside, and they can rapidly change directions in the air. Sounds threatening to us!
Toucan – The Beautiful Beak
Ok so first we can all agree how cool the Toucan’s beak is. The size, the color, everything about it we love. But what is extra cool, is that the Toucan’s beak is the longest in the world, in relation to the bird’s body size. And we can see that the color of the beak develops with age as they grow!
They use their beaks to pick and peel fruit which is their main source of fruit. Toucans eat using their beaks but also using their giant tongues which are the same size as their beaks! Who would have thought? We think this is definitely one of the coolest birds so far!
Chicken – The Sweetest Fluff
We don’t think there’s anything much sweeter than a baby chick. Look at it, how heartwarming is that little white fluff ball. We can’t really say the same for a grown chicken but we will soak in the cuteness of the chick for sure. Chickens are actually the most popular bird on earth.
They can come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors but all have the same scaley legs and claw feet. While not as cute as their fluffy hatchlings, the clawed feet of an adult chicken are extremely functional and can be used for grabbing things and walking on different surfaces.
Luzon Bleeding Heart – The Strong Heart
This baby and grown-up version look completely unrelated. It seems crazy that this whispy grey colored bird grows into this colorful round bird. These guys get their name from the big red splotch on their front, so it looks like a bleeding heart… DUH. The male and female birds look almost identical but the female’s red patch is a little smaller and lighter in color.
It is weird to imagine personalities of birds, but apparently these birds are actually really shy and quietly go about their own business. It takes a lot to rile these guys up, but if pushed, they will defend themselves or their area. Sometimes, they even fight until death. Ok so they’re shy but you don’t want to mess with them.
Chaffinch – The Colored Cutie
Just like a lot of other birds, the beautiful colored feathers of the chaffinch develop with maturity. Both the young and the females have a more dull coloring than the mature males. A male chaffinch has a blue-grey cap, pink cheeks and breast, and a reddish-brown mantle.
The chaffinch is most common in the UK. These ‘British’ birds make nests that are basket-shaped and usually built in trees, or between rocks. Much like other birds, the chaffinch is also a song bird and is often very loud and vocal. Maybe their small stubby beaks make them sound squeakier.
Peacock – The Stand Out
While peacocks are arguably one of the most identifiable birds due to their unique and beautiful features, you can barely recognize this little fluff ball because it has not yet ‘earned its feathers.’ The fancy tail will only become full-grown at the age of three!
A peacock tail can reach up to six feet long which can end up being around 60 percent of the entire body length. You would think that this would somehow get in the way of the peacock flying… wrong! The bird itself just doesn’t like to fly long distances. Fair enough.
Tufted Puffin – The Unique Wonder
The baby tufted puffin almost looks like a little baby black chick. It is hard to believe that it develops its crazy orange beak later as it grows. The orange beak almost looks like a cool masquerade mask! Our favorite part is that the beak changes color throughout the year, during the winter it is a grey dull color, and comes back to its vibrant orange in the warmer months.
Puffins mainly stick to life at sea, and they cruise on the waves when they’re going for a swim. This is why they are sometimes known as ‘sea parrots’ or ‘clowns of the sea’. We’re not sure if they would appreciate the nicknames but we sure do! And it totally suits them.
Cardinal – The Bright Red
Just like so many of the birds we have looked at, the baby cardinal looks nothing like its adult appearance. We would have no idea this awkward feathered and colored cutie would turn into the glowing beautiful red bird. The bird actually got its name from the Catholic Cardinal because they wear bright red clothing.
Although the female cardinal is less red and bright, both males and females have strong beaks, long tails, and raised crests. They can even grow up to seven to nine inches tall. The cutest part is that both the male and female will live together with a baby cardinal, both taking on the responsibility of feeding the baby.
Gannet – The Sleek Stature
Baby and adult gannets may be equally as attractive. The baby is a sweet white fluff ball with a beautifully patterned wing, while the adult’s feathers are more sleeked back. It doesn’t look like it, so it surprised us too, but the gannet is the largest seabird in the North Atlantic and its wings span up to 2m wide.
Random facts: 40 percent of the world’s population of Gannets is in Scotland. That is a lot of this one bird. If you’ve ever seen white birds look like they are shooting out of the sky and into the water at a phenomenal speed, you’ve probably seen a gannet.
Blue Tit Bird – The Sweet Yellow
These little baby blue tit birds are super cute. They are ready for independent adult life at the age of five weeks. Such a young age to be kicked out of home! Until then, the adult birds are responsible for feeding their baby, and they share the parenting load.
The female lays eight to ten eggs at a time and they tend to hatch after 13 to 15 days. Quick turn around! It seems crazy we have to wait nine months. The male is a good provider and brings food to the nest during the incubation period so the female doesn’t have to leave the nest.
Swan – The Bird of The Lake
We all know swans, whether it is from Swan Lake or you’ve seen them IRL. This bird is easier to identify for those of us who aren’t birdwatchers. We’re just here for the cute pictures because let’s be honest, anything in baby form is pretty adorable.
Our favorite part about swans is that their nature is typically grumpy. This gets even worse if they are being protective or they’re pissed off. They often scare off other birds, simply because they can, and then wave their wings in the air at each other like a swan high-five. You’ve probably seen them do this and wondered what they’re doing… now you know!
Night Heron – The Unexpected Blues
We’re happy about this transformation because not only does the baby night heron look sad and awkward, but the adult becomes such a perfect blue. The night heron has a sort of stocky appearance as if it is hunched over and it is usually seen with this posture.
This blue beauty gets its name because the bird is most active at dusk or at night. Well, that makes sense! This species lives in a wide range of fresh, salt, or brackish wetlands and they are the world’s most widespread heron. The night heron breeds in colonies with their stick nests usually being built over water. It’s almost like the OG houseboat!
Turkey – The Animal of America
We wouldn’t have guessed this little bird turned into a big turkey. Turkey is one of the most famous birds in America, but we don’t want to discuss that too much… it’s not for the right reasons. When they are in the wild, they are actually the largest game birds found in North America.
Fun fact time: The snood is the name of the saggy strange skin that hangs over the turkey’s beak. The best part is that this also changes colors, it turns bright red when the turkey gets excited. The other part of the fleshy bright red growth that is under the turkey’s throat is called a wattle. Who would have thought!
Bald Eagle – The Serious Stare
Ok so they weren’t bald as babies and they’re not bald as adults… where does this name come from? This remains a mystery to us. We do know that the bald eagle has been the national emblem of the United States since 1782, so we’re all pretty familiar with them.
Eagles are actually a super impressive bird. They have two centers of focus when it comes to their eyesight. We didn’t even know this was possible. We bet it helps when hunting for prey! They can also weigh up to almost a full tonne. Their prey must not stand a chance.
White Tern – The Bright Light
Ok, so the cool thing about the white tern is the distance it travels annually for migration. They can fly from the Arctic to Antarctica which is 25,000 miles one way, that is not including the return flight. That is a huge distance to travel every single year!
Maybe it is because they keep so active, but they can live a solid 35 years on average. Which isn’t bad for such a little bird. They seem to be beachy birds, like beach babes, and make their nests on land, or rocky beaches. They even drink seawater!
Ostrich – The Special Strength
An ostrich is one of the largest birds on the planet. You might not believe us but they can grow up to nine feet tall and weigh over 350 pounds.
That is taller and heavier than all of the NBA players we know! But guess what is really small… their brains.
Although ostriches can’t fly, they can run incredibly fast. This is because they have incredibly strong legs. So much so, it is said that one strong kick could even kill a lion. So between their enormous size and strength, and their decent speed, they’re doing pretty well.
Albatross – The Iconic Beak
Albatross are like the dinosaurs of the sky. Not just because the name sounds like it, but also because they are among the largest of flying birds. They actually spend most of their time flying in the air, so they’re obviously good at it. They generally only come back down to earth to make their nests, mostly on islands where they know people aren’t there so they get the island to themselves. Sounds pretty good!
The chicks are born on the remote islands, which in our opinion is a great way to start living right. After the chick has hatched, it is taken care of for about three weeks until it is considered ready to fight its own battles. Then the Albatross is ready for the real world and off it goes, spreading its wings.
Mississippi Kite – The Soft Touch
In the far western part of Tennessee, you’ll be able to find these cute Mississippi Kite birds. They are extremely graceful birds with long wings, but they are also birds of prey so don’t be mislead. The Mississippi Kite migrates to South America during the non-breeding season. They obviously want to relax on the South American beaches just like we do. The female usually lays only two eggs, and both parents incubate the eggs up to 31 days.
The Mississippi Kite has around 35 days before they have to fly and leave the nest. During this time, both parents are responsible for feeding the cute little chick. After that, they’re on their own as they say! We’re thankful we get more than 35 days before we’re expected to know what we’re doing with our lives.
Duck – The Everyday Waddler
We all know ducks. We all know ducks for their yellow beaks, “quack” call and any reference we can think of to Donald Duck. What we didn’t know is that not all ducks can “quack”. This seems crazy to us, how can its most iconic feature not apply to the whole species?!
It probably doesn’t surprise you to know that ducks are mostly aquatic birds living in both freshwater and seawater. But what is cool – these guys are found on every continent except for Antarctica. So they are one of the most worldly birds. That’s pretty cool!