As an avid birder, there is always a sense of fulfillment seeing baby birds on a nest being taken care of by their parents. However, these fragile, small, and undeveloped baby birds can also die in their own nests. So, why do baby birds die in the nest? Let us find out some common causes in the list below.
Parent Bird Issues
One reason baby birds die in the nest is having some issues with the parent bird. Either the parents abandoned the small birds, or the baby birds completely lost them. There are a few reasons why a parent bird will abandon the baby birds. One of which is when a baby bird is infected, forcing the parent to kill or abandon the small bird.
Another reason for abandonment is the presence of predators near the nests, which will force the parent bird to relocate and abandon the old nests and the baby bird. Also, some parent birds will kill and leave a baby bird for population control, which means killing or abandoning baby birds to reduce parent responsibilities.
The loss of a parent can also be the main reason a parent bird will abandon baby birds which will cause them to be killed in their nest. If one parent died in the wild, there is an excellent chance that the remaining parent will search for a new mate, effectively leaving the old one and the baby birds.
Malnutrition and Lack of Food
This reason is connected with the abandonment of the parent bird to the baby birds, which can cause them starvation and eventually malnutrition. If they are not eating because of a lack of food, the baby birds will be killed in their nest as a result.
The lack of food and starvation also happen when their environment gets too cold. During wintertime, some parent birds usually stop hunting for food because of the cold weather, which results in the shortage of food for their baby birds.
When there is less food on the nests, it will also result in a lack of adequate nutrients going to the baby bird’s body resulting in malnutrition. Less food or no food at all can immediately affect the smallest and weakest, which is unfortunately the baby birds.
The shortage of food can also result in dehydration which can also be fatal to baby birds. Usually, baby birds will get their water intake requirements by eating grubs and insects. However, during this cold season, the supply of these foods will be limited, leading to the baby birds being dehydrated.
A sudden temperature change can also affect and possibly kill the baby birds in their nest. When the weather season changes from winter to summer or vice versa, the sudden change can cause the baby bird’s mortality.
When it is too hot on the nest, the baby birds can die by overheating. This situation usually happens if the nest is directly exposed to the sunlight. If the temperature reaches more than 35 degrees celsius, it can be fatal to the baby birds.
On the other hand, prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can also affect baby birds and possibly kill them. Apart from the scarcity of food during the winter season, these baby birds need to produce enough heat in their body to combat the cold temperature, with the lack of food and the effect of chilling, these baby birds can possibly die in such conditions.
Catching an Illness
When parent birds try to hunt for food, they can sometimes bring infections and diseases to the baby birds in their nest. Even the nesting process will be prone to many forms of illnesses such as fungal and bacterial infections and diseases.
When they also have a limited supply of food, these types of diseases may also develop, which can be fatal to baby birds. These diseases can immediately be deadly to baby birds because of their vulnerability.
Predators and Parasites
There are other external and internal factors that can make the baby birds die in the nest. On the outside, predators can be the most intimidating factor that can kill baby birds in their nests. These predators see the baby birds as fragile and weak, making them an easy target for their food.
Inside the nest, parasites are also a possible cause for the birds to get sick and possibly die. Ectoparasites such as larvae, fleas, blowflies, and mites can suck body fluids not only to baby birds but also to parent birds as well. These parasites can affect the baby bird’s health, leading them to death.
Falling By Accident
Baby birds are vulnerable and need to be protected by their parents all the time. When the parents leave to hunt for food, the baby birds will be alone and easily target predators. However, another cause of their death in the nest is falling by accident.
When the nest is set up at a high altitude, not all baby birds will benefit from it. As a matter of fact, it can be risky and deadly for them. When there is a storm or a strong wind, it can blow off the wind, which can cause the nest to fall down and eventually kill the birds.
Genetic Disorder and Abnormalities
Some baby birds are just born sickly because of genetic disorders and deformities. And these physical problems can be the reason for their immediate death. During the nesting, there will be embryos that will fail to develop normally, causing sickness and abnormalities to the baby bird. Unfortunately, genetic disorders can shorten the lifespan of a baby bird.
When I was still new to birding, I always asked why my bird died what do I do with the body? What do baby birds die in the nest? These newbie questions led me to do my research and find out that there are several reasons for the mortality of baby birds in the nest. These factors include parent bird issues, weather, genetics, health, among others.