baby birds, nest, robin, death
May 19, 2011 7:54 PM   Subscribe

Circle of Life Filter: What terrible thing probably happened to the baby birds on my porch?

Mr. and Mrs. Robin had been sitting on a nest for about two weeks in the eaves of my front porch. Today, they were more absent than usual. Fiancee saw an eggshell on the ground, but there was no other evidence of the chicks. Nest is about 7 feet high, so I held my camera up there and used it to peer in. It seemed to be a completely empty nest (I waited for 10 minutes to make sure the adult birds weren't around before I did this). I never heard or saw evidence of baby birds, and, frankly, there was no gore or remains in the nest. So -- what happened? Was this a case of infanticide? A very clean raid by a predator? Did the baby birds go to live on a nice farm with other baby birds?
posted by Buffaload to Science & Nature (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Somebody ate 'em. Could have been a rodent, or another bird.
posted by rtha at 8:02 PM on May 19, 2011

Something found the nest. You summed it up well with "circle of life".

My dog ate a 13 stripe ground squirrel last week.... we're still morning.
posted by tomswift at 8:05 PM on May 19, 2011

or, mourning, whichever is more correct...
posted by tomswift at 8:06 PM on May 19, 2011

Snakes, rodents, raccoons, other birds... humans aren't the only creature that likes the taste of eggs in the morning. My parents were avid bird enthusiasts when I was younger and we had to cover the poles to all our bird houses in aluminum stove piping to keep most the creatures out.
posted by sbutler at 8:13 PM on May 19, 2011

They went to live on a nice farm with other baby birds. A farm in heaven.

Look around at night -- you probably have raccoons. They're ungainly, but they're climbers.
posted by dhartung at 8:20 PM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: it was hardly worth asking -- but the nest just seemed so ... clean ... that I was puzzled for a little bit. So the consensus was a predator and not a momma bird?
posted by Buffaload at 8:24 PM on May 19, 2011

We had sparrows nesting on our porch. One night we found this fellow right under where the sparrows were nesting, with a sparrow-shaped bulge in his tummy. The sparrows are all gone now. Likely something similar happened with your birdies.
posted by Addlepated at 8:24 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

never get attached to critters in the wild, it's a rough life out there...
posted by tomswift at 8:30 PM on May 19, 2011

Early enough in the season there's a good chance the parents will give it another shot, maybe in another nest in a different location.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:32 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Well, to be on the optimistic side, baby robins leave the nest at about two weeks. They really do grow fast. I have often found young robins hiding under our deck and here and there. You can bet momma and poppa robin are watching nearby. It's possible that they fledged and that's all there is to it :-)

Robins nested in the drainpipe at my parent's house and it's really hard to know that there were babies there. We never heard or saw evidence of babies until we saw them around the yard later :-) Birds by nature try to be as inconspicuous as possible and avoid behaviours that will draw a predator to a nest.
posted by Calzephyr at 8:38 PM on May 19, 2011

Oh, for bird nerd bonus points, baby robins poop in a "fecal sac" which the parent removes. This might be also why you didn't see evidence of baby birds either.
posted by Calzephyr at 8:59 PM on May 19, 2011

Blue jays & crows love eggs, if I recall. They wouldn't leave much. Neither would prettymuch anything else. But I can totally picture a scenario where the eggs (or chicks) were eaten, leaving nothing but a telltale shell on the ground, & Mama & Papa robin gave the nest up as a bad job.
posted by Ys at 2:41 AM on May 20, 2011

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