2015-07-02 / Nature

Hatchlings Spreading Their Wings

By Jack Kelly


An adult common tern prepares to dive for fish at Green Bridge. (Photos by Jack Kelly) An adult common tern prepares to dive for fish at Green Bridge. (Photos by Jack Kelly) There have been many recent developments with the varied species nesting on Aquidneck Island.

. The common tern rookery at Gooseneck Cove, adjacent to Green Bridge, has seen the hatching of at least seven down-covered chicks in recent days. The adults usually keep the young hidden in the vegetation on the rock, but allow them out during feeding time. The adults dive for small fish and return to the rock to feed the juveniles, pausing for only a few moments before flying off for more food. Tern chicks require 28-32 days to grow plumage and reach fledgling status. The juveniles then take flying lessons from their parents before migrating to South America in mid-August.

.The two surviving piping plover chicks at Sachuest Beach fledged in recent days and are testing their wings on short flights around the beach with their parents. Sarah Griffith of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service explained, “The juveniles have a much better chance of survival now that they can flee ground predators, and their size precludes the danger posed by gulls or crows. The little group will probably leave the beach in the next week as they prepare for migration south.” Meanwhile, the Third Beach piping plover chicks have grown very quickly and should be fledging within days. The chicks usually grow plumage within 27 days of hatching, and require about a week to 10 days' worth of flight time before the parents begin to move them out of the area.


A juvenile piping plover at Third Beach. It has shed most of its down and is growing plumage, and its wings are lengthening. A juvenile piping plover at Third Beach. It has shed most of its down and is growing plumage, and its wings are lengthening. .Various swallow species including barn swallows, tree swallows, bank swallows and northern rough-winged swallows have nurtured their young to fledgling status and are feeding their progeny in many locations. Swallows feed their young while they are perched, or on the wing in flight. This type of behavior continues until the young birds can reach speeds to pursue flying insects on their own.


Jack Kelly, a native Newporter, is a wildlife photographer and nature enthusiast who enjoys sharing his experiences with others. Jack Kelly, a native Newporter, is a wildlife photographer and nature enthusiast who enjoys sharing his experiences with others. .After the damage that this past winter’s brutal weather brought to nesting waterfowl, there have been sightings of Canada goslings and mallard ducklings in many of the local wetlands.

.The osprey pair nesting atop the cell tower at Toppa Field/Freebody Park have been feeding their brood for about two weeks. There may be two or three chicks in the massive nest, but the height of the tower is an issue and observers won’t get an exact count for another week or so, depending on how quickly the young raptors grow.

Many other avian species have produced young and soon a new generation of songbirds, shorebirds, seabirds, wading birds, and raptors will prepare for their first migrations south.

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