Gilford Public Library

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Parenting Is For The Birds

by Wendy Oellers-Fulmer 7/25/2023


The babies of most seabirds and songbirds are altricial, which means blind, featherless and completely helpless. After emerging from their eggs, the one behavior the chicks can manage, is to open their mouths to beg for food.


Being virtually featherless, they cannot manage their own temperature and rely on their parents to be kept warm. In about a week, their eyes open and feathers are developing. This is a time of rapid growth, with the babies doubling their weight several times.


What is fascinating is that altricial birds are incubated for a shorter time than precocial birds like ducks and many shore birds. The precocial chicks are born fully feathered, mobile and with their eyes open. The longer time in the egg is thought to help them have advanced motor abilities and functioning senses after hatching.



To learn more:

Nesting Cycle


New Beginnings...Again

by Wendy Oellers-Fulmer 7/18/2023


The robins who build a nest in our shrubs and bluebirds in a nesting box are both on their second brood of the season. While most birds only nest once a year, some species like the robins can have up to four to five clutches during a single breeding season.


Considering the fact that survival rate over a year for the young is less than 50%, the additional broods help maintain these species. Even after the young have fledged, the young birds usually stay near the parents for a short duration. During this time, they are especially at risk for predators and starvation. Both robins and bluebirds belong to the thrush family and their young are altricial, which means they are born blind, featherless and essentially helpless.


To learn more:

Focal Species

Nesting Cycle

Growth Spurts

by Wendy Oellers-Fulmer, 7/11/2023


While exploring the lake this past week, we discovered two different Bald Eagle nests (called aeries). One had two fledgling eaglets in it, the other had three. It is rare for a pair of eagles to successfully raise three chicks, but they are more successful when food is plentiful. In some cases, the survival rate is 50% of just one eaglet, which is usually the first born who is fed earlier than its sibling(s) and is larger.


Based on the coloration and size of the eaglets, it seems that the ones we spotted are about two months old, full sized, but with the tell-tale coloration of juveniles. Juvenile Bald eagles keep their brown coloration until around one year old. They won’t get their iconic white heads until they are around 4 -5 years and have achieved sexual maturity.


The parents will still bring food, and encourage them to both fly and hunt, but the eaglets usually stay longer after they have fledged, hanging out on nearby branches.


To discover more:

Bald Eagle

Baby Eagles: All You Need To Know (with Pictures)

Three Leaf Danger!



In this week's Nature Corner, we shed light on the often overlooked but troublesome poison ivy. Contact with any part of this three-leaved plant can lead to an itchy blistering rash caused by the oil it secretes.


While animals like deer and bees can interact with poison ivy unharmed, humans are typically allergic to it. Thriving in disturbed landscapes, poison ivy acts as nature's primer coat, colonizing areas like beaches, roadsides, and abandoned lots, gradually transforming them into forests. If you encounter poison ivy, promptly wash off the oil to minimize spreading, as there is no cure for the rash once it develops. Take precautions to avoid contact and stay mindful of this resilient plant during your outdoor ventures.


This article is based on a segment from New Hampshire Public Radio that ran on June 30, 2023.


For more information:

Something Wild: Leaves of three, let it be!

New World Warblers

by Wendy Oellers-Fulmer, 6/27/2023


One of the hallmarks of spring is the return of the warblers, which encompass some of the smallest birds found in both North and South America. There are over 118 species of these New World warblers (aka Wood-warblers), known for their long migrations every fall to tropical areas, returning north during their breeding season in the spring.


Smaller than sparrows, warblers are highly active, the majority living and foraging in trees, flitting from branch to branch and scampering along tree trunks and limbs. Warblers are insectivores, specializing in their foraging areas and behaviors to avoid competition with other birds. This type of specialization has helped support the diversity of this Parulidae bird family.


Males in the spring are usually adorned with bright feathers, attracting the females with both their color and songs. (Note: The Merlin app by Cornell Ornithology is free and a great way to identify the birds by their songs).

On a more challenging note, some warbler species (Golden-cheeked warbler) are now endangered due to destruction and loss of habitat.


Featured Warbler of the week: Black and White Warbler



For more information:

Parulidae: Wood Warblers

New World warblers