Inbreeding typically reduces fitness. Related partners may fail to reproduce and any inbred offspring may die early or fail to reproduce themselves. Here we show that inbreeding causes early death in the zebra finch Taeniopygia guttata, and among inbred individuals of the same inbreeding coefficient (F), those that die early are more homozygous (estimated from single nucleotide polymorphisms) than those that survive to adulthood. Therefore, we identify two ways by which inbreeding depression may be underestimated in studies of inbreeding. First, a failure to study early life history could mean that the magnitude of inbreeding depression is routinely underestimated. Second, the observation that the most homozygous individuals of the same pedigree F were the least likely to survive to sexual maturity provides evidence that realized inbreeding, estimated from a high density of markers spread throughout the genome, explains variation in survival above and beyond what pedigree-based measures of inbreeding can explain.