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    Home / Science lessons / Learn About Chicks
    • Learn About Chicks

      Learn About Chicks

      How a Chick Hatches

      A mother chicken is called a hen. The baby chick's life cycle starts when its mother hen lays an egg. This egg has a big yellow yolkthat contains all the food the chick needs while it grows inside the egg. The yolk floats in the egg white, which protects it and contains water for the chick. For about 21 days the hen sits on her eggs and covers them with her feathers to keep them warm. Several times a day she turns the eggs with her beak. She does this to keep the yolk from sinking down and crushing the chick against the shell.

      When it is time for the chick to hatch, it pecks holes in the shell with a bump on its beak called an egg tooth. A few days after the chick has hatched, the egg tooth falls off because the chick doesn't need it any more. The chick in the picture still has its egg tooth. The chick has to take lots of breaks to rest, and when it finally gets out of the shell it doesn't get up and move right away — it's too tired! Its feathers are wet and stringy, but they soon dry and become fluffy.

      Baby chicks grow up fast. Young girls are called pullets and young boys are called cockerels. Pretty soon they will be grown-up hens and roosters and start having their own babies!

      Laying Eggs

      All birds lay eggs, but they don't all do it in just the same way:

      • Most birds build nests out of twigs and grass or mud. These keep the eggs and chicks protected from other animals who might want to eat them. Many birds build their nests in trees, but some build them on the ground.
      • Emperor penguins live in snow and ice and don't have anything to build their nests with. They only lay one egg, and to keep it warm they balance it on top of their feet under their feathers for two whole months!
      • Some cuckoo birds don't build their own nest or take care of their own chicks. They lay their eggs in the nest of another bird and let that bird take care of them.
      • Swiftlets in Asia build their nests on the ceilings of caves. They build them out of their own spit! People in Asia sometimes cook these nests to make bird's nest soup.

      Eggs come in lots of different colors and sizes. A hummingbird egg is the size of a jelly bean. A robin egg is blue and about the size of a quarter. Ostrich eggs are the largest; they are bigger than a grapefruit!

      Baby Names

      There are lots of different names for baby birds! In general, they are called chicks or hatchlings, but some types of birds have special names. Here are a few:

      • A baby duck is called a duckling.
      • A baby goose is called a gosling (say GOZ-ling)
      • A baby eagle is called a fledgling or an eaglet.
      • A baby swan is called a cygnet (say SIG-net) or a flapper.
      • A baby pigeon is called a squab (say SKWAHB).

      Groups of hatchlings are sometimes called a brood or a clutch. Groups of grown-up birds can have different names, too. Usually they are a flock, but a group of geese is called a gaggle and a group of ducks is called a brace.

      Printable Worksheet

      Print out this coloring sheet to help kids match the baby birds with their parents!

      Science Words

      Down- tiny, soft, fluffy feathers that keep the chick warm.
      Hen- a grown-up, mother (female) chicken.
      Yolk- the yellow part of the inside of the egg. This gives the baby chick the food it needs to grow.
      Egg Tooth- a bump on the chick's beak that it uses to crack the shell so it can hatch.

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    By: Debra Burroughs
    Date: May 21, 2016

    How can you tell the boys from the girls.

    By: Martia A.
    Date: May 20, 2016

    Thanks! I am incubating eggs now. Even in my school! But I never knew the eggtooth falls off. That was super helpful! I saw a show, and a guy through the chick across the room! Maybe you could add what a hen laying an egg looks like! Just a comment! What do chicks look like on day 12?

    By: donna lyman
    Date: May 12, 2016

    My friend has 4 robin eggs in a nest she is watching and one has hatched.  she referred to the grouping as a google.  Is this correct?

    By: wertzydude
    Date: Feb 25, 2016

    It takes 21 days for a chick to get ready to hatch and 12 hours to hatch.

    By: tayand keeley
    Date: Nov 18, 2015

    This was so helpful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE are hatching chicks for SCIENCE FAR and this was usful. thanks

    By: Cassidy
    Date: Oct 24, 2015

    they look so cute i wish i hade a chick

    By: Kate
    Date: Oct 03, 2015

    Cool stuff

    By: imari_star
    Date: Mar 03, 2015

    Cool facts im only nine and i am about to a baby chick

    By: keyon
    Date: Jun 18, 2014

    the hen lay on the chick for 22 day that a lot of time.

    By: Allison brown
    Date: Mar 27, 2014

    Chicks are so cute. After a while, after they hatch, chicks become really fuzzy and cute.
    But right after they hatch they are actually wet and they have to disconnect their own embalical