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?



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?


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


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.


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.