Q. HELP! I found a baby, or a hurt, robin!
Q. Why are baby robins ugly at first?
A. The reason ducklings and chicks are cuter than newly hatched robins is that they are actually older
than robins when they hatch out! Most mother ducks and birds related to chickens nest on the ground, and lay a
dozen or so eggs. If those babies hatched out helpless like robins, their calls and movements could quickly attract
predators. It's much easier and safer for the female to quietly enter and leave the nest alone, and incubate for
a few weeks longer, until the babies are strong enough to follow her out of the nest as soon as they hatch. It
would be very difficult for a mother duck or chicken to find and bring enough food for so many babies all by herself,
and male ducks and roosters simply don't know how to help care for babies. So upon hatching, ducklings and chicks,
which are precocial species, immediately fluff out and follow their mother, who leads them to food and teaches
them where to hide when danger approaches. They are well-developed enough to eat by themselves right from the start.
Q. Why has the mother stopped sitting on the nest at night?
I'm trying to figure out if a nest of robins has been abandoned. Can you tell if when the babies are bigger the mother or father stays on the nest at night or do they roost elsewhere? For the past few nights I've notice that the babies are alone (I can them see out of a window) and haven't seen an adult around them for several days. Should I be concerned?
A. By the time the babies are about a week old, the nest is getting crowded, and the babies are capable of keeping themselves warm, all snuggled together. At this point the mother robin starts sleeping on a tree branch again. If she is a wary mother, you might not see her feeding the young because robins are so fearful of alerting predators that they simply don't go near the nest if they notice anyone observing them.
Q. When a nestling falls from the nest, can I put it back?
After a big windstorm, I found two very small baby robins on the ground under their nest. I'm afraid if I pick them up, the smell of my hands will make their parents abandon them. Can I handle them with gloves, or is there nothing I can do?
A. Robins identify their babies the way we humans recognize ours-by sight and sound, not by smell. So if you can safely put the babies back in the nest, go ahead!
Q. Should I rescue an orphaned robin?
Help! I found a baby robin in my yard and think the mother and father were both killed. What should I do?
A. Imagine being the mother of four or five toddlers set loose in a toy store. A family of baby robins usually all fledge on about the same day, and suddenly the babies are investigating the big, wonderful world, stretching their wings and exercising their hopping muscles, going every which way. The parents must continue to find food for all of them, and find them one by one to feed them. Baby robins are defenseless, and if a parent spots you near one, it instinctively trusts that the baby has a better chance of not being noticed if the parent stays away. So it flies off to feed another of the brood. If the baby calls out of hunger, the parents usually come very quickly. The family stays together for at least 3 weeks until the babies are independent.
If you find a baby robin, you are doing the bird and its parents a horrible disservice if you pick it up without being CERTAIN that the parents are dead. It is hard for a bird to survive to adulthood, and it has the best chance if its parents can teach it all the skills it needs for avoiding predators, finding food, and recognizing the safest areas for roosting at night. Parent robins also help their young develop the social skills they'll need when they flock with other robins during migration and winter.
If you have proof that the parents are dead, or the baby robin is being attacked, and absolutely 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 available at pet shops for hand-rearing 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 that include Vitamin D3--bird vitamins are available in most pet shops.
My husband and I have been raising this bird for two weeks. When we found the bird, he couldn't even perch. Since then, he is capable of short flights, and can now take food without it being put in his mouth. At the advice of volunteers, I have fed him every hour, from Neonate to 3-4 worms per hour. After work, I take him to our garden and compost pile to learn about looking for food. My questions are, should this frequency be continued? Are there insects I should not introduce him to? Does he instinctively know to avoid dogs? (I have three dogs} Do all robins migrate? Will he know to migrate, build a nest, etc.? When or should we encourage him to leave?
A. Your baby should be fed as much and as often as he likes, but now he should also be kept outside, loose, as much as possible. He will make exploratory flights away, but will come back for feeding. He will figure out a lot about food all by himself. He does NOT instinctively know that dogs are dangerous, and if your dogs are nice to him, it might endanger him the first time he finds a not-so-friendly dog. But if he survives his first encounter with an aggressive dog, he'll master that lesson instantly.
You will quickly find that as he masters finding berries and worms for himself, he will grow less and less dependent on the food you offer, so don't worry about making him dependent, as long as you give him the freedom that his own parents would give during his critical time of learning and exploration. If you trust him to learn natural skills while you protect him, little by little he's going to get more wild. He will start associating with robins on his own, grow restless in fall, instinctively join up with other robins, and take his cues from them about migration.
I rescued...or so I thought...a baby Robin who fell out of the nest at a friends house. I tried to find the nest but couldn't and since he has cats who frequently kill birds I took her home. It has been 2 weeks and she is now able to fly but will not pick up food on her own. I put out a tray of small bits of berries and fruit but no go. I tried some bird seed which seems like some of it has been eaten. She still insists on being hand feed worms. I feed about every 2 hours 2 worms cut in halves. She is quite demanding and comes looking for me in the house to be fed! When I come home she flies at me and has even landed on my head. I don't want her to be a pet but am afraid to turn her loose for fear she will not survive. If I take her back to the area where I found her and turn her loose will her parents recognize her and accept her? Will she know to feed herself? Do Robins stay in the area where they are born or do they immediately move on? Attached is a pic of her....by looks is she old enough to be on her own? Please hurry as I feel each day goes on I do more damage.
A. This baby robin is clearly not ready to be on her own
yet. If you can get it to a wildlife clinic, they will know how to teach
it to be wild. One of the reasons that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
requires people to have a license to rehabilitate baby birds is that it
requires training to ensure that the robin gets proper nutrition during
this vulnerable stage, when proper growth of bones and feathers is critical,
and to ensure that the baby learns all the life skills it will need to
survive in the wild. If you don't have a wildlife clinic near you, you'll
need to do several things to ensure that this baby has a good chance of
Q. I have a baby robin with a deformed beak. What should I do?
I found a baby robin 4 1/2 weeks ago. He had fallen from his nest and injured his foot...he still is unable to stand up good. The first week I fed him baby food and cat food (puréed ), with an eye dropper. He started opening his mouth and flapping his wings so I started feeding him lunchmeat, baked turkey and gourmet moist cat food, I have since added grapes to his diet. I do add vitamins to his water.
But my problem is he cannot eat on his own, he depends on me to feed him....I think his beak is also deformed...his top beak is longer than his bottom beak. He cannot pick food up and flip it back. It gets stuck in the curved part of his top beak.
I have tried to teach him to eat on his own, but I do not know if he really cannot eat or he just don't know how...I keep food like grapes, cut up, small slices of the turkey lunch meat, cat food, dog food, lettuce, anything I think he will at least try and eat. Even bread. I just am trying to get him to not be dependent on me for food.
I have been feeding him every hour, thirteen hours a day for the last 4 1/2 weeks....can you give me any suggestions on how I might be able to wean him from all the hand feeding, or will he be dependent on me from now on?
Is there anything else I can feed him, besides me going out and dig up worms. He is very picky about what he eats, if he don' t like what it taste like, he will refuse to eat it or throw it out of his mouth...but he does love grapes.
Also can you explain why he seems to get restless around dusk. He even
refuses to eat then. Any information you can give me I would really appreciate.
I have grown so attached to this little bird...I want him to live a good
A. I have never seen that situation. Was the beak this way when you found him? Sometimes parent robins drop a deformed baby from the nest--at least I have seen this happen once before. With the injured foot, it's possible the baby had a vitamin deficiency. An alternative explanation is that food stuck on the beak actually kept it from growing properly. If it's possible to take a digital photo of it or to scan a regular photograph, maybe I can tell by seeing what it looks like.
Until you can get the bird to a licensed rehabber, I'd cut the feedings in half and leave chopped strawberries, blueberries, bits of apple, raspberries, and/or any other sweet fruits in a shallow dish. Also a few earthworms, which are a basic component of a robin's natural diet. He does require protein. Crumbled hard-boiled egg yolks, canned dog food, and meal worms are the best sources of protein for songbirds when a genuinely natural diet isn't available.
Over time, he's supposed to learn to eat by himself. He's much older
than fledgling age, and should be doing this on his own already. Again,
a licensed rehabber knows how to encourage birds to eat on their own and
even how to teach them how in some situations. It sounds though like your
bird has a genuine deformity that may make normal living impossible.
Best of luck with him.
Q.My male robin was killed. Will the female find another mate?
I am trying to find out what are the chances for my female robin to find a new mate? Last sad Sunday 2 males flew into my upstairs window fighting over the boundaries for the territory. Both died in my hands within 5 minutes. So sad for me. Now I have a grieving female still defending her place in my garden. She is fighting with others who want to move in. I still feed her a few raisins every day. She stopped looking and softly calling for him now. I hope there is hope for her to find a mate. I miss hearing them sing in the morning. Every garden has one but mine is silent. Hope you have time to let me know about it.
A. It sounds like your male robin was a very aggressive one, and your yard must be a really fine habitat for two birds to fight so gravely over it. During the time that robins are establishing territories, many individuals are still migrating. If they find an open territory en route, they often take it over. Also in most healthy bird populations, there are "extra" birds called floaters that wait in the wings for a territory to open up. Floaters in your neighborhood might be timid about entering the yard for a while, if your robin taught them that he was going to attack if they crossed his boundaries. It will take a little time for them to relax and check it out. Meanwhile, robins passing through may well notice an opening and fly right in. Normally females chase other females out, but fairly quickly adapt to a strange male.