Lest anyone panic after reading the title of the post, I want to start by assuring our readers that all of the robins are currently safe and sound in the nest. I can say this with confidence, because Bill and I have been checking on them quite frequently since this afternoon's "incident." (What can I say? We're concerned parents, and we worry about our babies.)
So, about the "incident"... Around 4:00 this afternoon, Bill ventured out to the nest to take a few pictures of our ridiculously cute baby robins. After peeking into the nest and confirming that the kids were doing OK, Bill turned away from the nest for a moment to set up his equipment. When he turned back to the nest, he saw little Esther precariously perched in the bush, struggling mightily to get back into the nest.
A few minutes later, Mr. Robin returned to the nest to feed the kids, but he was unable to help Esther back into the nest. Considering how big Esther has grown, I think it would be nearly impossible for Mr. or Mrs. Robin to pick her up at this point. So after Mr. Robin left, Bill very carefully picked up Esther and returned her to the nest. I know what you're probably thinking -- we all learned as children that you should never touch a baby animal in the wild, because the parents will detect the scent of a human, and they will reject the baby. However, according to my favorite source for all things robin-related, robins identify their children by sight and sound -- not by smell -- so picking up a baby robin will not cause its parents to reject it. (Bill did wear a pair of gloves, just to be on the safe side.)
Esther is now safely back in the nest, and she's gone back to doing what she does best (begging for worms). She seems to have recovered quite well from her fall. Kids are resilient that way. Both Mr. and Mrs. Robin have returned to the nest several times, and they don't seem to be at all bothered by Esther's brief contact with a human.
We later reviewed the video footage to find out how Esther had fallen out of the nest. It appears that she placed her foot up on the edge of the nest in an effort to get a good position for feeding time. When Mrs. Robin returned to the nest with her worms, all of the kids were very eager to get their fair share of worms. With all of the commotion, Baskin Robin (Esther's older brother) bumped her with his wing, and she tumbled out of the nest.
It's been a traumatic day for all of us, but we're very thankful that Esther is OK. We're considering installing a baby gate on the nest to prevent future accidents.
Time lapse from the day: