Why Do Baby Birds Die in the Nest? (16 Reasons Explained)
You may be wondering why do baby birds die in the nest if you’ve just witnessed a deceased infant bird in the nest. Well, the short answer to this question is as follows:
Baby birds die in their nests for several reasons. Mostly they are abandoned by their moms which leads to starvation and death. Sometimes they die due to diseases, dehydration, temperature, or human/predators.
However, according to my research, I’ve found 16 possible reasons due to which baby birds die in their nests.
If you are interested in learning all those reasons then keep on reading.
Why Do Baby Birds Die in the Nest
Here are some of the main reasons that cause the death of new hatchlings or baby birds.
1. Mom Leaves the Nest Before the Baby Is Done Hatching:
It is normal for a mother to leave her baby bird when it is half-hatched. However, what isn’t normal is leaving the nest before the egg has completely hatched.
The baby may be born with part of the eggshell on its head or in its mouth which can lead to death due to suffocation. If this is not lethal, it will certainly lead to abandonment, which brings us to reason number two.
Sometimes babies are abandoned when they are just a few days old before they can open their eyes. There are a few reasons why a mother abandons her baby on the brink of death.
A) Sometimes this happens because she has been taken from her original location and moved to an area where there isn’t enough food for herself and her babies.
B) Sometimes, they abandon their babies because the babies appear sick or deformed (this is usually due to lack of oxygen because the eggshell was partly covering its beak.)
c) Sometimes, they abandon their babies because there is not enough space in the nest for everyone.
d) Other times, the baby will be abandoned if it begins to beg too loudly and vigorously for food.
e) There are also rare occasions where young birds may be abandoned by their mom if she is very young herself and not developed enough to care for a newborn baby.
3. Slow Development:
If a mother bird does not have enough resources, her babies will develop slowly which leads to consequences such as hunger and dehydration.
When the new hatchlings are born, they have no feathers to keep themselves warm or to regulate their body temperature.
This is when they depend on their mother and she has to constantly come back with food for them in order to feed and keep them warm.
If she cannot do this anymore due to lack of resources, her babies will die from starvation and dehydration.
By predators, I do not mean only the large carnivores such as cats or owls that are well-known for eating birds, but smaller animals too like mice, snakes, and other types of reptiles.
Newly born baby birds are easy prey for these predators because they are completely defenseless without their mom.
In most cases, crows can destroy the eggs or sometimes even ravens can cause a lot of damage too.
If the mother bird gets sick, there is a big chance that her babies will get sick too which can lead to the death of baby birds in the nest. Birds can get different types of diseases and most of them can pass to their babies too.
The reason for this type of mortality is the lack of growth and development due to cold weather or hot weather conditions.
In cold weather conditions, the lack of food makes it difficult for the mother to survive and to provide enough warmth for her babies.
On the other hand, in hot weather conditions, a protein called keratin which is produced by the liver helps in building up a bird’s feathers.
But if these birds hatch while their livers are still developing, their bodies will not be able to produce enough of this protein and the birds will die.
In case a baby bird does not receive enough food from its mother, it is likely to die from starvation. This happens usually when there is a lack of food or some predator is blocking the nest.
If you find a bird with babies in the nest make sure to leave some bird feed in the bird feeder.
This will help the mother birds to easily get food for their babies.
The same also happens in cases where there is a lack of water which leads to dehydration. you might be wondering how do baby birds get water if their mother is never there to give them water.
They get the water from the food that their mothers feed them, but if they do not receive enough food, this leads to dehydration and death.
The increase in temperature due to the hot weather conditions can lead to overheating which is a factor that also causes fatalities among birds.
Normally a baby bird can regulate its body heat by increasing or decreasing the flow of blood to certain parts of its body such as the beak and feet.
If their nest is exposed to direct sunlight, they may experience overheating which can lead to death.
10. Failure to Flutter:
This is one of the most common reasons why do baby birds die in the nest. It can also be called ‘Fledgling Fatigue’.
The reason for this type of mortality is the fact that when they are born they do not have enough energy to lift themselves up.
Their wings are still very small and don’t let them fly for very long distances, which can be exhausting for them. This is when they end up falling out of their nests as the parents don’t know that they need help as they do not understand what’s going on.
11: Death Of Parents:
As sad as it may sound, in most cases when the mother or father bird dies; their babies die with them.
This is because they depend on their parents for food and warmth which they can’t do without.
If they do not receive enough food, they will starve to death. If they don’t get enough warmth from the sun or their mother, they will die from hypothermia or hyperthermia.
Birds are parasitized by a variety of insects and parasites.
If a young baby bird has a parasite or if it develops one while still in the nest, there is a good chance that it will die from this type of illness.
You can study more about ectoparasites here.
13. Genetic Disorders & Chemical Poisoning:
Another main reason why do baby birds die in the nest is a genetic disorder. This factor of baby bird mortality is the least common of all. But it still happens and I don’t know why.
It can be caused due to a genetic disorder or some type of poisoning that may occur in the environment where they live such as polluted land, water, and air near industrial areas.
14: Sibling Rivalry:
This may be unlikely, but it does happen. Infanticide is the process of one bird killing offspring in order to gain resources (usually food) for themselves. This factor of baby bird mortality can also happen if another sibling is already too weak and can’t survive on its own.
15. Human Activity:
Sometimes, baby birds may die due to contact with humans. In case their nests are in an area where there is a lot of human activity, they may die from being crushed and getting hit by cars and bikes.
Or, they might fall victim to predators such as cats or dogs that live near them. Besides that, sometimes humans cut trees due to which their nests can be destroyed (please preserve nature).
16: Natural Disasters:
Another major reason for the baby bird’s death can be a natural disaster. This year, I was in my university hostel and it was raining in torrents. After a while when the rain stopped and I came out of my room I saw a lot of birds were dropped from their nests.
Imagine if an adult bird can drop from its nest in such heavy rain what would happen to their babies? Well, I wish I could do something for them but unfortunately, I can not control nature.
Those were some of the main causes behind the deaths of baby birds in their nests. However, there are some other issues too that you need to learn.
Do mother birds push babies out of the nest?
In most cases, no because they love their babies a lot and would never want to hurt them. However, in some cases, they are left with no choice because the population of the nest has grown too large or because the babies are not strong enough to survive.
Mother birds may also push their young ones out of the nest if there is a threat nearby that could be harmful to them; they do this in order to protect their kids from any potential danger.
Do mother birds abandon their babies if humans touch them?
This may be the case in some rare cases. If you find a baby bird on the ground, make sure to leave it there and go away.
Even if the mother bird is not around, she will come back to take care of it after you are gone.
If you handle them or play with them, they might fall victim to predation or get away from their real mother.
What can you do to help baby birds?
a) If it is in its nest, leave it there. Mother birds will come to take care of them so don’t interfere with nature.
b) If it is on the ground and appears to be injured or sick, find its parents. You can do this by observing its body language which you will learn about if you read this post: How To Identify The Baby Bird’s Health Status.
c) If it is on the ground and not injured or sick, leave it there. Even if it is injured or sick, find its parents first because they are the ones who will take care of it.
d) If you find a nest, don’t climb trees to get to it. Many times nests are hidden and if the parents learn that the nest is at risk then they might abandon them or neglect them in order to protect their young ones from potential dangers.
e) Don’t throw rocks and sticks at nests or eggs. This can cause serious damage to the young ones present in the nest and could potentially kill them.
f) If you find an injured bird, take it to a veterinary clinic rather than trying to treat it yourself.
g) If you are really passionate about birds, you can join some nature societies that work to preserve them and their habitats.
Why do baby birds die in the nests? Well, there could be multiple reasons but the most common issues are abandonment, lack of food, water, and appropriate temperature.
Sometimes human activities can also cause the death of baby birds. You might be thinking how? Let me tell you mostly humans cut trees which can destroy their homes.
Apart from that if a human interacts with a baby bird its mother will likely abandon it which can result in its death also.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article. If there’s anything else in your mind and you want to ask please feel free to let me know.
Take care of yourself and see you next time.