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September 28, 2013 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: The Teenagers

By October nesting season has ended for most birds in North America. The fledglings have left the constant care of their parents, learned to fly and can find their own food. As juveniles they are growing adult feathers and looking more like their parents every day.

Soon many of these young birds will be migrating to their winter homes or gathering into large flocks for the winter. This week they were busy eating, playing and acting like teenagers.

Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat Immature Male

This Common Yellowthroat is a young male. He is just beginning to grow in the black feathers on his face. Adult males have a distinct black mask and bright yellow underparts. The females are brownish with only a small amount of yellow and no black mask.

American Robin

Juvenile Robin

Robins form large flocks for the winter and I’ve been noticing groups of 20 or more birds gathering in the forest preserves.

This youngster chased a moth and landed in a lower branch right in front of me. Two seconds later that moth was swallowed whole! Young robin is already growing in his adult red breast and losing the speckled breast of a fledgling.

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing Juvenile

I watched a large unruly flock of young Cedar Waxwings descend on a few grapevine covered trees. They were chattering and calling as they twirled through the branches. The young birds’ chest feathers have a mottled look. The adult waxwing has a sleek, silky look.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron Juvenile

There is a Great Blue Heron Rookery within a few miles of my house so it’s not uncommon to find a lone bird at the pond in the park. This youngster was standing at the edge of the water perfectly still like a statue waiting for lunch to swim past.

I could tell this bird was a juvenile by the solid dark crown, striping on the throat and neck and a two-toned bill, features they lose when they grow their adult feathers.


Saturday Snapshot was originated by Alyce at At Home With Books. For the summer it will be hosted by Melinda of West Metro Mommy. Visit her blog to see more great photos or add your own.

© 2013 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.



Leave a Comment
  1. Arti / Sep 28 2013 9:32 am

    What a beautiful set of photos. Teenagers by now… how fast they grow. Thanks for the info on how to identify them in contrast to their parents. Often I thought they are a different species altogether when they’re young.


    • Leslie / Sep 28 2013 9:36 am

      Me too. The sparrows are especially difficult. A quick glance through the binoculars is usually not enough. I need to take photos of those to figure out their ID.


  2. laurelrainsnow / Sep 28 2013 10:04 am

    I think those teenagers are awesome. Thanks for sharing…and for adding to my knowledge every week! Here’s MY SATURDAY SNAPSHOT POST


    • Leslie / Sep 28 2013 11:15 am

      The young ones are fun to watch. When you see a large group this time of year, chances are most of them are “teens”.


  3. topazshell / Sep 28 2013 10:20 am

    Love the Yellow Throat. The Blue Heron seems so skinny.


    • Leslie / Sep 28 2013 11:12 am

      The heron will look bigger when he gets his adult feathers.


  4. Beth Hoffman / Sep 28 2013 10:52 am

    Terrific photos, Leslie. I have a soft spot for Cedar Waxwings.


    • Leslie / Sep 28 2013 11:11 am

      They are a favorite of mine too. I have an Eastern Cedar tree in my front yard so I see them often. The adults always look so sharp, like they are all dressed up for a night on the town.


  5. Elizabeth / Sep 28 2013 11:36 am

    Nice shots…love the heron.

    THANKS for sharing and for stopping by my Saturday Snapshot.

    Silver’s Reviews
    My Saturday Snapshot


  6. irene / Sep 28 2013 12:13 pm

    I love visiting your blog, what great info.


  7. Peggy@Peggy Ann's Post / Sep 28 2013 2:05 pm

    Very lovely shots! You have so many lovely birds in your area. Lucky duck!


  8. Louise / Sep 28 2013 3:18 pm

    What a great post, thanks Leslie. I learnt so much. They’re all stunning birds, I really appreciated the links to the adult pictures too. And I think I learnt about the herons that I saw in Europe, some of them were quite different, I think now that they may have been juveniles. Actually, soon I need to get organised and make a post about the birds I saw in Europe this year- they were fantastic. So were the birds in NZ of course.


  9. booketta / Sep 28 2013 4:08 pm

    They are fabulous 🙂


  10. BermudaOnion / Sep 28 2013 7:07 pm

    As always, I’m impressed with your gorgeous photos!


  11. mdott922 / Sep 28 2013 8:38 pm

    Great pictures! I loved the one of the heron!


  12. thenovellife1 / Sep 28 2013 8:59 pm

    wow what fantastic pictures of birds! you’re so talented at getting close ups!


    • Leslie / Sep 28 2013 9:10 pm

      I have a 250mm zoom lens and I hide behind trees and shrubs so the birds forget I’m there and I can get closer.


  13. Diane@BibliophilebytheSea / Sep 28 2013 9:36 pm

    What beautiful photos. I especially love the heron.


  14. Mary / Sep 29 2013 8:02 am

    That first guy looks so soft! I was on an early morning walk a few weeks ago when a great blue heron flew over my head and landed along the river. It was quite a sight!


  15. Karen B / Sep 29 2013 9:34 am

    Your photos always brighten my weekends. Thank you!


  16. bettyl / Sep 30 2013 5:42 pm

    Those are some lovely bird shots!Thanks so much for sharing the information, too. I find it quite interesting.


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