baby with no eyes?

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I have learned a lot from reading on this forum although i've never posted before. We had something this evening I've never seen addressed. We found a baby martin on the ground under the nests and realized that it has no eyes. It was too late in the evening to do a nest check, so I can't be sure which nest it came out of. It looks to be about 18-19 days old, but could be older? There are places where eyes should be, but no real evidence of injury or anything. Hard to explain, small depressions but not gooey or anything.

Does anyone have any ideas about what may have caused this? I had one nest with a runt in it, but didn't notice anything wrong with it at last nest check. The babies always watch with such bright eyes I think I would have noticed. I can't figure out how it lived this long if the eyes have been missing for any length of time.
Nanette
Posts: 579
Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2006 7:07 pm
Location: Virginia/Woodbridge

Perhaps that is why it was kicked out of the nest?? I really hate finding babies on the ground! :-( There is usually some reason for it to be pushed out unless it jumped out on its own from a bad mite infestation. When you are doing nest checks, sometimes, it can be hard to notice everything. I have done many nest checks but this year, I overlooked a "freshly" dead baby and counted it as alive. :oops:
Fledge on!
Nanette
John Barrow
Posts: 953
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 4:12 pm
Location: Corpus Christi / Sandia , Texas

Hi Cheryl G.,

There was an article published in the PM Update, Vol. 12-2, about this condition, anophthalmia, where nestlings are born without eyes. It is not a common occurrence, but it does occur. I suspect the parents pushed the poor fellow out, knowing his chance of survival was nil. He survived in the cavity because he was being fed (nestlings don't usually open their eyes until 8 or 9 days old, but survive because parents feed them).

Nature often appears cruel to us, but it is does work in its own way. Many times I have seen nestlings expelled from nests because they had an incurable condition or even when feeding conditions would not support the brood, and parents reduced it. I think they always seek to achieve their maximum possible success, and know better than us what that level is.

I am sorry that you have witnessed this rare phenomenom traceable to embryonic development, but hope you will focus on what you have achieved in concert with nature and not what has been removed.

Thank you for what you have accomplished this season and best wishes in the years ahead.

John Barrow, Corpus Christi, TX
~~TEAMED WITH A MARTIN GODDESS~~

Member/Mentor-PMCA. I do regular nestchecks and participate in PROJECT MARTINWATCH!! Coordinated 3 geolocator studies-2009, 2010 & 2013. State and Fed licensed bander (retired Jan., 2020)
Dawn~KS
Posts: 95
Joined: Thu May 31, 2007 2:24 pm
Location: Kansas

Hi Cheryl,

I had a nestling with this condition this year also. I noticed it before any of the nestlings in that nest had opened their eyes. I found the Update article that John referenced and read about the condition there. There was not a lot of information about it on the internet so I was glad to have that Update.

Sad as it was, I accepted the fact that these things happen and did the kind and humane thing and put it down. Obviously, it could not survive. I am posting photo of mine. He is on top of his two siblings. Notice not only *no eyes* but also the flattened beak...................
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Purple Martin nestling with *anophthalmia*!
Purple Martin nestling with *anophthalmia*!
IMG_0614.jpg (49.65 KiB) Viewed 8687 times
Guest

What a bummer. I hate it when I find a baby that has no chance of survival, but it's part of the landlord business. I hate putting them down.
Nanette
Posts: 579
Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2006 7:07 pm
Location: Virginia/Woodbridge

Hi John,
Can that article be viewed online?
Fledge on!
Nanette
Guest

Thanks for the info on anophthalmia. That is what it looks like, appreciate the pictures too. I'll look for the article, my PM Update collection only goes back to 13 though. My baby was older than the pix, size-wise it looked like 18-19 days but when I looked at the wing feather development it was probably older. Interesting that that parents fed it for so long, maybe until they figured out it wasn't going to fly like its sibs.

I don't find these "out-of-my-control" losses overly upsetting. Sad, yes but part of life. The fascinating part is figuring out where "normal" is and if there is anything I can do to shift it to better influence final outcomes. The challenging part is keeping up with the things I know I can do, ie predator control, HOSP eradication etc.

And of course, martins are just plain fun to watch.

Thanks everyone.
Nanette
Posts: 579
Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2006 7:07 pm
Location: Virginia/Woodbridge

Thanks Louise!
Fledge on!
Nanette
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