It is with great sadness that I have to tell you about the death of one of the baby robins.  I thought they had made it through that long rainy Tuesday, but I was wrong.  Almost as soon as I got up on Wednesday I knew there was something wrong.  As I looked and looked out my window at the nest, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach.  It appeared that there were only 2 babies being fed.  I felt quite bereft and couldn’t settle until I went outside and investigated around their nest. And there he, or she, was.  Hanging limply in the rose vines.  My 5-year old asked, what made it die, Mom?  There are a couple of probable causes.  There was always one chick that was slower and less visible than the other two.  His siblings always popped right up, aggressively seeking the worms that Hector and Heloise brought back.  I saw the parents making an effort to feed them all, but you’ve got to figure the more eager ones got more food.  Then it was a cold, windy, and rainy day, I’m sure the nest was soaking wet.  He could have just died, and the mother pushed him out.  Or he could have been knocked out in the middle of the night by accident, and died of exposure.  Or, saddest of all, he could have been knocked out on purpose, but I choose not to believe that.  It is true that birds do lay more eggs than they expect, or are able, to raise to adulthood, as a biological insurance policy, the “spare heir”.  Natural selection in action is not pretty.

My experiences with this nest, and the loss of one of the chicks, made me think about the fact that baby birds, and other wildlife, are falling out of their nests and getting displaced a lot around this time of the year.  Many people do not know what to do if they find an injured or orphaned animal.  The best thing to do is to leave them alone.  Their parents will continue to care for them even if they are not in the nest.  If you can return a baby bird to its nest, do so.  Touching it once will not make its parents reject it.  If it truly is displaced, or orphaned, and you live within driving distance of the Great Swamp Wildlife Refuge, in Morris County, there’s a great organization just outside of it where you can bring injured or orphaned birds.  The Raptor Trust is a truly amazing organization, whose goal is the care and rehabilitation of injured wild birds.  You can visit them and see many types of raptors that cannot be released for some reason.  Also, the State of New Jersey licenses wildlife rehabilitators, people who are trained to care for injured or displaced wildlife of all kinds.  Here’s a link to New Jersey’s Division of Fish and Wildlife’s list of wildlife rehabilitators.  We’ve had experiences with the two in our area, due to some unfortunate happenings with baby raccoons, and have found them to be incredibly helpful.  If you live in a different state, just go to your state’s Fish and Wildlife Department, I’m sure they will be able to help you.

Finally, to end on a positive note, the other two baby Robins seem to be just fine.  I had a minor scare this morning when I looked out and saw no parents and the chicks did not seem to be moving.  Finally Heloise showed up with a beak of worms and the little dears popped up.  They are getting big!  They grow up so fast!  My nine-year old observed that their eyes have opened.  They are getting their feathers, too, and starting to look like birds, and not some bizarre alien embryos. As I was showing one of my friends the nest, she remarked that if she had such a visible nest, she would spend all day watching them.  In doing so, I’m becoming quite attached to them.