This section is from the "The New Student's Reference Work Volume 5: How And Why Stories" by Elinor Atkinson.
What a hurried, worried time it is for the parent birds when the baby birds are out of their shells. The nests must be cleaned of the egg-shells and dirt, and every baby kept perfectly clean. Crow babies are naked and very tender skinned. Bird babies look to be all mouths. They lie helplessly in the nests, bills wide open, crying every few minutes for food, and what a lot of it they can eat!
Every few minutes one or the other of the robin parents hurries to the nest with a mouthful of worms. The babies just lie there, big yellow bills open, and eat two or three times their own weight of worms every day. From dawn until dark a worm must be found every two minutes to keep a nest full of young robins fed. That means several hundred in a day for one brood!
The bluebirds forage the lawns and orchards for grubs and insects; the blackbird the corn-field for cut worms; the orioles for small caterpillars; the woodpeckers for wood borers; the swallows for winged fliers. Nothing that bores, or creeps, or flies, or burrows in the ground, but goes to feed the nestling. Wild and tame fruits and weed seeds are hunted, too.
When they come out of the nests every kind of bird baby acts differently. The orioles are cry-babies, crying to be fed even when they are able to fly. The wren babies make for the nearest holes— a water spout or rat hole, perhaps—and have to be coaxed and scolded to safe perches in bushes. Little speckle-breasted robin babies hop after their parents and soon learn to be quiet. The woodpecker babies are stupid and clumsy, and expect to be fed a long time. The jays are scarcely out of the nest before they begin to scold. The king-birds are the most sensible of all. They mind their parents, stick close together, and learn how to look out for themselves.
When the bird babies are out you can see several of the prettiest things in bird family life. You can see Papa Robin and Papa Bluebird and Papa Wren taking care of the little ones, feeding them, teaching them, protecting them. The mama birds are busy hatching other broods. You can see swallows meeting, and seeming to kiss in the air. The older birds are feeding the young ones, on the wing. And you can see many a lesson given in singing, in food-finding, and in skurrying out of sight when alarm notes are sounded. You can watch the little ones taught to bathe in tiny pools, or to flutter in the dust bath.
Such anxious, hard-working times as birds have when bringing up their families. No wonder that, in mid-summer, the songs of many are silenced; the gay coats dropped, or grown shabby. But the robin is cheery to the last, the meadow-lark trills as joyously as in the spring, the gold-finch twitters among the late thistle down, and the brown thrush trains her family in the art of singing. But most of the birds, weary and sad-colored, leave us in silence, and fly away for the winter, to grow fat, gaily feathered and tuneful, in the warm south. (See names of birds, also Bird's Nests and Nesting-Boxes, with plate.)