GALLERY: Finland’s baby birds are kind of adorable!

This month's gallery turns the lens on the baby birds which have been hatching in late spring and ready to fly the nest!

Mute swans / Credit: Paul Stevens

May and June are the busiest months in Finland for spotting baby birds. There are still some around in July but by now most have flown the nest.

Many young birds like the mallards and goldeneyes in this gallery can feed for themselves soon after hatching, while others like Slavonian grebes and great spotted woodpeckers are fed for several weeks by their hard-working parents!

It can be difficult to distinguish the young of some bird species from each other. For example young shovelers and mallards are a very similar dappled brown, but if you look at their beaks you will see that even young shovelers have a large beak like the adults.

Other baby birds are very distinctive like the very young European coot with their red and orange heads. The reason for this risky colour strategy is to help attract their parent’s attention when they bring food – the evolutionary idea is that the brighter a chick’s head, the more food they get and the quicker they grow. The same idea can be seen in the young crow with its bright red mouth.

The growth of young birds and the rate at which they become breeding adults differs between species. While the young of many smaller birds will be breeding already in their second year, others like cygnets of mute swans will not be fully mature for at least two years after hatching.

Even at one year old, young swans have not got the pure white feathers of the adults yet, and their mix of grey and white feathers is quite distinctive.

If you happen to see a large group of goldeneye young, they are not necessarily the offspring of a single female. Goldeneyes can form creches where the young from two or more females group together to feed.

The larger number in a creche provides protection for an individual, because it confuses predators and they are not sure which one to take. However, if one individual gets separated from the group it is in greater danger, as a potential predator may have better success at picking off a lone duckling.

This gallery comes from the lens of Espoo-based wildlife photographer Paul Stevens. Follow him on Instagram and Facebook.