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Eastern Phoebe abandoned babies?? (1 Viewer)


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Hi everyone! New to BirdForum from Charlotte, NC. Sad to say that I'm starting with a heartbreaking question. :(

This was our 3rd Spring welcoming an Eastern Phoebe nest to our porch! A little precariously placed, but amazing how strong and secure this little nest has been 3 years running, on a little ledge under our front door stoop. We've had a very up-close and beautiful experience watching nature do it's thing right outside our front window. We had one brood the first year with 4 healthy babies. Two broods last year--first brood, 4 babies. Three safely flew the coop when we found the last one had it's leg tangled in the nest! After some effort, my daughter and I were able to rescue it and take it to a rehab center. Whew. Sadly, a cowbird intruded into our second brood last year and, once the baby cowbird hatched, the Phoebes did not survive.

If you are still with me . . .
April came this year and we had 5 eggs in our nest! Only 4 hatched, but we were able to watch them grow til they nearly overflowed the nest and all flew away with no complications!

And then the second brood arrived. 3 new eggs. All hatched as expected about 10 days ago. We have been excitedly watching these 3 precious babies start to grow--ACTIVE babies, reaching, stretching their little heads so high during feedings, mama and daddy taking good care, no concerns noted until yesterday afternoon, when we found one of the babies on the ground below the nest, no longer alive. Just heartbreaking. Was it pushed out? Did it get too active and fall out somehow? I just don't know. But we waited and watched all afternoon, debating about what to do. No mama and daddy around for a bit, I noticed, but by evening, much activity as the mama (I believe) was hopping and chirping near and around the little one for many minutes as the other parent stood watch nearby. As it was nearing sundown and little bugs and flies were beginning to join the event, after much debate, my son and I decided to take a moment when the mom and dad were both away, to pick up the baby and bury it nearby. So incredibly sad.

But now, I'm so regretful, thinking that maybe we did something wrong by removing it, because by this morning, I couldn't find the mama bird. I didn't see her at all this morning or upon returning from work this afternoon - and after watching and waiting for more than an hour, and seeing no activity from the nest, I peeked up over the side only to find the other two babies not moving. No mama and no daddy to be found.

I've googled many phoebe sites and have found no evidence of baby abandonment in this type of bird. Did we do something wrong by removing the deceased baby? Why wouldn't they have returned to the nest to feed the others? Especially being only days away from leaving the nest?

My heart is broken and I just wonder if anyone has any insights.

Thank you for listening and I would welcome any feedback.

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