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Wild Animals/Robin eggs and chicks


QUESTION: At my house, robins have built cozy little nests all along the bottom wood planks of my deck. I'm very happy to have them nesting there, and it's been a joy watching them build the nests and lay eggs. However, I did some research on robin chicks out of curiosity on their species and also why the eggs hadn't hatched in  about 2 or 3 weeks. If the eggs do take about 14 days, then why haven't these eggs hatched yet?

ANSWER: Dear Kit,

If you can see eggs in the nest that the mother is not incubating, they are probably inviable.  There are any number of reasons for this, from birth defects to the mother being away from the nest after she started incubating for long enough to let the eggs cool to a critical level.

If they haven't hatched in three weeks, it's pretty safe to say they won't hatch.  The parent will not start incubating until all the eggs are laid, so that the chicks will hatch at about the same time.

Hope this helps.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: For a follow up =)
If the eggs will not hatch, what should I do with them? Should I let them just sit there and let nature do what nature does?

Dear Kit,

Well, that would be up to you.  :)  Eventually, they will go bad and may start to smell.  So you could either bury them, or leave them out for scavengers who might appreciate a nice egg meal (squirrels, opossums, etc.)

The nest will not likely be re-used by the parent birds, so you could remove it, too.


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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.


I'm an evolutionary biologist with a passion for animals. Ask about natural history, behavior, ecology, evolution. PLEASE NOTE:

If you have found an "orphaned" or injured wild animal or bird:
Please don't waste time asking questions on the internet, as the answers may come too late. DO NOT FEED THE ANIMAL, and DO NOT HANDLE IT unless it is in imminent danger. (Many wild "orphans" are not orphans at all!) If you are absolutely sure it is orphaned, keep it warm and quiet, and find a LICENSED WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR HERE. Don't try to raise a baby yourself, or rehabilitate an injured anmal. Many a well-intentioned rescuer will do more harm than good, especially with baby birds and baby rabbits.

Without geographic location, time of day and habitat, I can't help. A clear picture is always best.

It's impossible for me to I.D. an animal call without hearing it myself.

I'm not an expert on comparative strengths of different animals (more complicated than you might think!) nor bite forces.

I refuse to answer "Which of these two animals--X or X--would win in a fight?".

These hypothetical matchups range from impossible (Grizzly Bears and Gorillas don't even occupy the same continent.) to ridiculous (Someone asked me "Who would win a fight between a Great White Shark and a tiger?").

The vast majority of animals--even the fierce and powerful--are not as warlike as Homo sapiens, and it's childish to project our aggressiveness onto them.


I have been the fortunate caregiver to a group of Black-tailed Jackrabbits rescued from the Miami International Airport, and not releasable in this area because they are not native. I also have rehabbed and released Eastern Cottontails, and am in contact with many very experienced wildlife rescuers who regularly handle injured or orphaned rabbits and hares.

House Rabbit Society

Exotic DVM journal

I have a Ph.D. in Biology, with main areas of expertise in evolutionary biology, genetics, botany, and ecology.

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