Bird Term

What is a Brood Patch? Why and When Do Birds Have Them?

A brood patch is a bare area of skin that some birds develop during nesting. The bare skin is an adaptation to help with egg incuabation.

The patch of featherless skin allows the parent bird to provide extra warmth from his or her own body to the eggs in the nest, and to growing, naked, newly-hatched chicks in the first days of life.

Brood Patch on American Robin
Bird banders note brood patch on American Robin by VSPYCC (CC BY 2.0)

Both males and females can develop a brood patch, depending on the species and how incubation duty is shared. In most species, the brood patch develops as feathers are naturally shed during nesting activities. In some species, the brood patch appears through self-plucking. Ducks and geese, for instance, may line their nest with soft breast feathers, exposing the skin.

Canada Goose on Nest
Canada Goose sits on eggs in nest lined with feathers by Bradley Davis (CC BY-ND 2.0)

The location of the brood patch on the adult bird's body depends on the species. Most birds have a single bare patch of skin, while some species may develop two or even three patches.

Fun Fact: Bird banders use the presence of a brood patch to determine if a bird is currently nesting. The presence of a brood patch can also help to sex or age the bird. The patch on most birds is not immediately visible on the bird's body; banders gently blow air on the belly to separate the surrounding feathers to see if a patch is present.

Cute Robin T-Shirts & Gifts

Comments

Andrew on October 21, 2018 at 5:28 PM wrote:
this is a american robin
Andrew on November 22, 2018 at 4:59 AM wrote:
the south american birds
Caroline on June 23, 2021 at 9:56 PM wrote:
cool and I found a Feather of the Canada Robins. Its a white and grey one.

Leave a comment

Comments with links or HTML will be deleted. Your comment will be published pending approval.
Your email address will not be published
You can unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For more information on how to unsubscribe, our privacy practices, and how we are committed to protecting and respecting your privacy, please review our Privacy Policy. By clicking submit below, you consent to allow Birdorable to store and process the personal information submitted above to provide you the content requested.

2015 Bonanza Bird #9: Eastern Phoebe

Today our Birdorable Bonanza: 2015 Advent Edition continues with a New World species of tyrant flycatcher: the Eastern Phoebe! Eastern Phoebes are tyrant flycatchers that are found in eastern North America. These cuties are migratory, breeding as far north as the Northern...

Introducing the Birdorable Galapagos Penguin: The Northernmost Penguin in the World

Today we are adding another penguin species to Birdorable: the Galapagos Penguin!This species of penguin has the northernmost range of all penguins, and it is the only penguin species to live north of the equator. The climate on their island...

Baby Birdorable: Piping Plover

If you think our Birdorable birds are cute as adults, what about when they are babies? Below are some baby photos (shared via Flickr Creative Commons) of the Piping Plover. When it comes to cute baby birds, it's hard to beat precocial shorebird chicks. Precocial chicks are ready...

2015 Bonanza Bird #16: American Pipit

Our Birdorable Bonanza: 2015 Advent Edition continues today with a widespread species of songbird: the American Pipit! American Pipits are small- to medium-sized songbirds found on both sides of the Pacific Ocean. Outside of North America the species is known as the...