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Mother and Baby Robins Dead

Basically, I'm heartbroken, I had a pair of beautiful robins nesting in my ivy, feeding away, non stop! Went away, just overnight, when I came back, no robin activity! Bad weather, a bit of thunder even, thought they'd just be hiding! Anyway, next day, still nothing, I knew something was wrong, decided to have a look in the best, not only were 4 chicks dead, but one of the parents too, I burst into tears, absolutely devastated! Has anyone got the slightest idea why, not only the chicks, but mum or dad died too?? I do not want this to happen again 😭
Any ideas at all?? Can't explain how or why????
Thank you for any insight 


  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    edited May 2021
    Thanks for your message and welcome to the forum. Where are you based?

    Do they look very thin? Is it possible heavy rain made it too hard to hunt for food?

    A bird can use up to 10 per cent of its body weight during one cold winters night, and unless able to feed well every day to replenish its reserves, a prolonged cold spell can be fatal. In normal circumstances the fat reserves built up by the bird will keep it going for a few days, but mortality tends to increase rapidly if a cold spell continues into a second week.

  • listy528listy528 Posts: 13
    Thank you, in Reading, Berkshire
  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    I added an edited comment above.
  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Posts: 7,950
    It's possible that if one of the parent birds had already died (caught by a cat, perhaps), the remaining one was unable to provide enough food for itself and the babies...
    "The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life."  Rabindranath Tagore
  • listy528listy528 Posts: 13
    Thank you for your reply, I, like you, thought something like that a possibility, makes sense, but have since had another robin in the garden, which, I presume, is the other parent?? Or maybe not  Just seems really odd and Awfully sad 😭
    Thank you again
  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    10% of mortalities are robin-on-robin - they are fairly fierce birds when territory is challenged.
  • listy528listy528 Posts: 13
    That makes it seem even more sad, what a tragedy if that is what happened, all those little lives 😭 would they attack a nest directly? It's just the way one of the parents was dead on top of the dead babies in the nest, horrible to think another robin could do that, I had no idea.
    Thank you
  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    BBC Springwatch is a programme that focused mostly on nest-watching. It starts on Tuesday. It will give a good sense of UK nest-life over 12 episodes. I find it very insightful, if you would like to find out more.
  • wild edgeswild edges Posts: 9,064
    I maintain around 20 nest boxes at the moment and I'm always amazed by how high the chick and adult mortality rate is. Nesting must be very taxing on the adults and the chicks survive on a knife's edge of weather conditions and food availability. Even in the areas I keep my nest boxes where I would consider the birds have a very good chance of finding food I still see a lot of dead chicks and more dead adults than I expected. I always wish I knew what caused the deaths but I guess there are quite a few factors at play. Life goes on and the box will be filled with hungry chicks the next season so I don't dwell on it.
    Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people
  • listy528listy528 Posts: 13
    Thankyou Fire, I will definitely be watching, sounds like it could be very helpful and interesting, Great!
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