Wild Animals/Baby robins

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Question
Hello, this is the third year that a robin family (we assume it is the same family) has nested on the lip of a pillar on our front porch. We do not mind sharing our space and are mindful to not disturb or startle the family. My concern now is that one of the babies keeps falling or being pushed out of the nest by the other babies a few days before they are 2 weeks old. We have put him back numerous times as they are easy to reach from a step ladder but I am afraid the little guy is gonna get hurt. Is this too soon? I read that they can actually survive on the ground for a few days while learning to fly but we don't want to see him get eaten especially if there is something we can do to ensure he lives. Thanks for your time!

Answer
Dear Mel

Thank you for your question. I also wish to thank the websites I used.

First of all, I cannot say if the baby is falling out or being pushed out. I suspect the latter, as robins produce many more chicks than will survive to be adults. Only a pair of chicks are needed to replace their parents, so most chicks will not breed. If all robin chicks survived, the robin population would increase enormously, leading to mass starvation or to robins replacing other species of birds and seriously affecting biodiversity. The little robin may be a 'runt' that is a lot weaker than the others. While it may not seem fair, the parents tend to feed the strongest chicks, so they will survive. This means that the weaker chicks are more likely to die. If the parents tried to feed all the chicks equally, there is a possibility that none of the chicks would have enough food and they all could die. By favouring the stronger chicks, the parents ensure that at least some chicks will survive and, as they will be strong, they have a good chance of breeding.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Robin#Breeding and http://www.epa.gov/region1/ge/thesite/restofriver/reports/final_era/B%20-%20Focu say that the chicks commonly fledge 916 days after hatching. All the chicks in the brood leave the nest one or two days of each other.If one of the chicks has fallen or been pushed from the nest a few times, this does not seem as if it is ready to leave the nest. The mothers follow the fledglings at first,
later only the male does. The juveniles may follow their parents around and beg food from them.

http://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/robin/FAQBabies.html#3 says that you can replace the chick, but I suspect it will fall out, or be pushed out, again. If the chick is fledged, the parents will continue to find food for it. If it calls out of hunger, the parents usually come very quickly. The chick will have more chance of survival if its parents can teach it all the skills it needs to avoid predators, find food and recognize the safest areas to roost at night. The parents help their young develop the social skills they'll need when they flock with other robins during migration and winter.
http://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/robin/FAQBabies.html#3 says that if you believe the chick is being attacked and needs to be rescued, try to get it to a licensed rehabilitator as soon as possible. Meanwhile, you can feed it earthworms, mealworms, bits of strawberry, blueberry, cherry, raspberry and other fruits, and hand-feeding mixtures at pet shops to hand-rear baby parrots and cockatiels. Robins need food from the time the sun rises until it sets each day, and should be fed every 10-20 minutes during that time, but unlike mammals, robins never need overnight feedings. If they're indoors for any time, they need vitamin supplements including Vitamin D3. Please note that it is difficult to devote the time to hand-rear the robin, which will lose out on the skills that the parents would provide. Please contact a rehabilitator or wildlife charity for help.
http://www.ontariowildliferescue.ca/wildlifecentres/?care=bird has details of wildlife centres that specialise in caring for birds.

Good luck

Jonathan  

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Jonathan Wright

Expertise

I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.

Experience

I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

Organizations
WWF. ZSL. Natural History Museum. RSPB. London Bat Group.

Publications
Newsletters of London Zoo volunteers and the London Bat Group

Education/Credentials
BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

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