Lakeside Nature Center

Critter Corner - Songbirds

American Goldfinch; FNAL (Fermi Lab), Photographer: Ann Sullivan

American Robin; FNAL (Fermi Lab), Photographer: Tom Bentley

Eastern Bluebird; Missouri Department of Conservation

Carolina Wren; US Geological Survey, Photographer: Chan Robbins

Cedar Waxwing: FNAL (Fermi Lab), Photographer: Gene Oleynik

Chipping Sparrow; FNAL (Fermi Lab), Photographer: Ann Sullivan

Dark-eyed Junco: FNAL (Fermi Lab), Photographer: Gene Oleynik

Eastern Meadowlark; FNAL (Fermi Lab), Photographer: Gene Oleynik

House Finch; FNAL (Fermi Lab), Photographer: Ann Sullivan

Northern Mockingbird; US Geological Survey, photographer: George Jameson

Yellow-billed cuckoo; Environmental Protection Agency

Yellowshafted flicker; US Geological Survey, photographer: A. Wilson



Songbirds, such as cardinals (above), bluebirds, goldfinches, orioles, wrens and mockingbirds are the most numerous and colorful birds in our area.  These small birds, with their beautiful, often complicated songs, flit and dart around our yards and in the woods.


Almost all baby songbirds are fed insects, worms and caterpillars by their moms and dads.  These creeping crawlies are high in protein, fat and moisture.  Birds, unlike mammals, do not produce milk.  So...never feed a baby bird milk.


Mom, and sometimes Dad (depending on the songbird species), incubates the eggs for about two weeks.  After hatching, the young songbirds spend about 10 to 14 days in the nest, growing to adult size and developing feathers.


Songbirds live in areas that have places to hide and a source for food.  Different songbirds build different types of nests.  A cup nest may belong to a robin or a goldfinch, a handing nest is probably a Baltimore Oriole.


Baby songbirds have no way to protect themselves.  Once they leave the nest, the young birds are very vulnerable to predators, especially house cats, until they learn how to hide and when to fl away.


  • Birds have a poorly developed sense of small.  If you find a newly hatched songbird on the ground, you can place it back into the nest.  If you cannot each the nest, make a substitute nest from a frozen whipped cream container.  Punch holes into the bottom, pack it with leaves and grass, tie it tightly onto a nearby tree (on the shady side of the tree) as high as you can reach, and put the baby in it.  Mom and Dad will return soon.

  • In most cases, the male songbird is the one who sings.  He uses his songs to attract a mate and to warn off other male birds.

 (Photo credit: Cardinal FNAL (Fermi Lab), Photographer: Tom Bentley)

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