Show Details

A Nestling Mystery

June 23, 2011

A listener asks: How do baby birds get enough water when they’re still in the nest?

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

How baby birds stay quenched…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Millions of bird lovers have been watching a pair of bald eagles raise two babies in Decorah, Iowa via a 24-hour-a-day streaming webcam. Listener Greg Silvus of Boulder, Colorado is one of them. He’s enjoyed seeing the nestlings grow up, but he’s puzzled by one thing.

GREG SILVUS (Listener):

How do baby birds get water while still in the nest?

HIRSHON:

We asked raptor biologist Janet Linthicum, who has been working to save threatened and endangered birds of prey for over 30 years.

JANET LINTHICUM:

The way that young raptors get moisture is from their parents. They have a piece of meat in their beak and then they drool saliva on it so it’s very moist, and that’s how the youngsters get their moisture.

HIRSHON:

And smaller birds like sparrows get all the moisture they need from the food their parents bring them. If you have a science question, give us a call at 1-800-why-isit. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.