30 Birds When They’re Babies Versus All Grown Up

There’s a reason why the cute baby animal pics scene is dominated by mammals like kitties and bunnies, but you don’t see a lot of baby birds. It’s because most of them have some serious awkward phases (with the exception of ducks and chickens… they seem to be blessed with looking cute in their baby pictures.) Where do you think the tale of the Ugly Duckling comes from? Apparently, it takes a while to grow a majestic and functional coat of feathers, and they can look pretty silly in the meantime.

Scroll down to see some impressive bird glow-ups. We bet you didn’t know what at least a few of these birds looked like as babies. Upvote the ones that surprise you the most!

#1 Cardinal

Everyone loves seeing cute, red cardinals outside their window. They’re so popular that they have been designated the state bird of seven states in the US: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia.
#2 Peacock

Technically, only the males of this species are peacocks, while the females are peahens, and all of them together are peafowl. Also, technically, a group of them is called an “ostentation” or a “pride”, but we probably won’t remember either of those rules.
#3 Tuffted Puffin

Puffins’ feet and beaks only turn orange during their spring breeding season. Conveniently for them, that’s also the only time when they come ashore, so we only have photos of them looking their best.
Pigeons are an unusual case because, even if you live in a city and you see more pigeons than you can count every day, you’ve probably never seen one tending to a nest with baby pigeons in it.

That’s because the feral pigeons that live in cities all over the world are descended from rock doves, which put their nests on steep rock faces, or in caves. Urban pigeons carry on this behavior by nesting on roofs, under windowsills on tall buildings, and anywhere where absolutely nobody without wings can find them. If you hadn’t thought about it until now, that’s proof that they’re good at it.

Pigeons stay safely hidden away until they’re at least 40 days old, and then they come out with a shiny coat of feathers just like their parents. Good for them, it looks like it’s less embarrassing that way.
#4 Barn Owl

Barn owls don’t actually hoot, they only screech. Mood.
#5 Grey Crowned Crane

The grey-crowned crane, one of the flashiest members of the crane family, lives in south and east Africa and is the national bird of Uganda.
#6 Toco Toucan

The size of a toucan’s bill can make predators think that it isn’t worth trying to catch one, but it’s so light and delicate that it’s not actually useful for self-defense.
#7 Chicken

It only takes 21 days for a fertilized chicken egg to form a fluffy little chick like this one, but it takes a lot of work. A hen turns the egg over at least 50 times a day so it can remain in the center of the egg and grow normally.
#8 Goffin’s Cockatoo

If you haven’t had any kind of cockatoo as a pet before, you probably didn’t know that they produce dust. It keeps their feathers clean, but does the opposite for the bird owner’s home.
#9 Peregrine Falcon

Falcons can be trained to be bird security guards and keep other birds away from places where they could cause trouble, like landfills or vineyards.
#10 Chaffinch

Chaffinches are some of the most common singing birds, but maybe “singing” isn’t the right word, as they actually have at least 9 calls with consistent and discrete meanings.
#11 Bleeding-Heart Pidgoen

#12 House Martin

#13 Hummingbird

Most of hummingbirds’ functions happen too quickly for humans to even perceive: their wings flap at least 50 times per second, their heart rate is about 20 beats per second, and they can stick out and withdraw their tongues 20 times per second while feeding.
#14 Pileated Woodpecker

Woodpeckers’ disporportionately long tongues wrap around the skull, like a tape measure.
#15 Golden Pheasant

Golden pheasants are native to the forests of China, but they’ve been imported and formed feral populations on every continent but Antarctica, because everyone wants some golden pheasants, I guess.
#16 Gannet

#17 Ostrich

#18 Tit

#19 Swan

#20 Raven

#21 Mallard Duck

#22 Mississippi Kite

#23 Grey Headed Albatross

#24 Bald Eagle

#25 Night Heron

#26 Pigeon

#27 White Tern

#28 Gentoo Penguin

#29 Flamingo

#30 Turkey

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