Some enterprising mother blue jay thought it was about time to push the fledglings out of the nest today, right beside my balcony. It was stinking hot today, by the way, and I chose to spend the hottest part of it stripping stain off a piece of furniture out there on said balcony. I didn't see the actual plummet, but all of a sudden noticed wriggling in the grass where no wriggling had been before. There they were, one squawking its head off (as much as a baby bird can squawk) and the other merely wriggling with its head under its wing.
I shooed the lounging Little Girl inside in hopes that the parents would see the coast was clear and come do something. I'm not sure what I thought that would be. They can't very well lift them back to the nest, can they?
All the while I was giving myself instructions not to get involved, not to think about if there was an empty shoebox somewhere, and if I had the number for the wildlife center at the parks department. I've been involved in rescues since I've moved here, mainly stray cats: I took in a sick kitten with a broken leg, only to have it die the next day, and another time dropped everything and rounded up the young kittens of a stray mom cat and took them to the shelter (mom would have gone too, at least to get fixed, but she eluded me).
Well, about the time ol' Harry spotted the nice, fat, helpless baby bird still squawking occasionally, the other one raised its head from its wing and flopped over dead.
I looked up baby bird care online. Here is a cumulation of what I found: touching them and even handling them isn't deadly to the bird; most birds don't have a good sense of smell, so the idea that people-smell will contaminate them is wrong. You should try to return the bird to its nest. (Around here the branches are a good 15 feet off the ground, so that won't be happening.) If the bird is not obviously injured (broken wing/leg), leave it alone. The parents are looking for it, probably waiting till the coast is clear (A pair of adult blue jays were on my feeder all afternoon, periodically swooping down to where the babies were, I hope to feed them).
I took away the dead bird and disposed of it. The other baby had managed to hop some distance away from where they'd been before, so I think it's going to be fine where it is. In a matter of days it should be able to get away to safety on its own. Harry and Little Girl, on the other hand, are on house arrest till then.