QUESTION: A robin has nested in the bracing of my deck umbrella. Her first brood went perfectly according to plan...then, before the babies even got to a week old, they disappeared. I saw 3 of them in the nest the night before; the next morning the nest was empty with no signs of distress. Mom and Dad came back again and layed 3 more eggs. Again, everything great and then exactly the same as before. One night the nest has 3 hatched babies in it and the next morning, an empty nest. What is going on?! Please tell me she's moving them!

ANSWER: If they babies disappeared before they were a week old and the parents came and laid three more eggs, the babies were eaten/taken by a predator - cat, rat, squirrel, jay, raccoon, or whatever. And then it happened again? Predator, no doubt. The parents cannot and do not move their eggs or babies.
It's sad but it's not at all unusual. Of all songbird eggs laid, maybe one out of ten becomes an adult bird.

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QUESTION: Thanks, Roger but how did the predator get all 3?! Mom was sitting on them! I am devastated! Ivegot to take the nest down so they don't try again!

For almost any predator, it's easy. Mom Robin is no match for them. I have to tell you that disturbing any bird's nest is against federal law, even if it is in your umbrella. Not that you are liable to get busted, but it's not a good idea anyway. If the nest disappears the Robins may not nest again anywhere and then there will be no chance for any baby robins. Leaving the nest there at least gives them some chance.


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Roger Lederer


Any and all about WILD birds - the science of ornithology. Information about birdwatching, ecology, conservation, migration, behavior, banding, rehabilitation, feeding, songs, binoculars, identification, and careers in ornithology. No questions about pet or caged birds, please.


Have a PhD and over forty years as a professional ornithologist - research, teaching, author, speaker, webmaster of . Have written thirty scientific papers, three bird field guides, a textbook in ecology four other bird books, the latest being "Beaks, Bones, and Bird Songs". Have traveled to 100 countries watching birds and have spoken to hundreds of groups about birds.

PhD in Zoology/Ornithology; Emeritus Professor of Biological Sciences; former Dean of the College of Natural Sciences at California State University, Chico

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