American Robin

Birds will nest wherever opportunity leads them.  This isn’t always convenient for the humans in the area, or comfortable for the birds, either.  Here’s an example from this spring.

A pair of American Robins built a nest upon a light fixture outside of a second story access door to an apartment hallway in late May.  It was reasonably sheltered from the weather, but people would of course use the door right next to the nest, making the situation a little awkward at times.  The nest seemed to tilt a bit towards the ground as time went by.

The mother robin laid her eggs in the nest, and diligently kept them warm.

She’d fly off the nest when the door was used, but return soon after.

She incubated the eggs into early June, when this little sleepy head was seen in the nest.

The same day a second head appeared.

Mother would keep them company in the nest, incubating the remaining eggs.

In a few days, another head was spotted.

The nestlings would cheep fiercely when mother or father came by with food; when on their own, they would doze a lot.

There was a 4th nestling in there, visible occasionally.  They seemed to like looking over the edge of the nest.  Right around this time, a tenant moved out and another moved in, propping the door open and making repeated trips over several hours, causing consternation among the parents.  Fortunately, these resilient robins hung in there and did not abandon the nest, which will sometimes happen when birds are unduly stressed.

From sunrise to sunset, the parents were very active and watchful.

Both parents made frequent food runs, bringing lots of things to eat to the nest.  Here’s a whole beakful of good stuff for the nestlings!

Here, a parent brings a choice juicy grub to the nest.

Sadly, 2 of the 4 nestlings ended up falling out of the nest before they were ready to leave.  One was found dead, and the other was weak but still hanging in there.  Unfortunately, although it was given prompt and effective care, it succumbed to an infection a few days later.  High mortality rates are not uncommon among nestlings.  Bird parents will often nest more than once a year, so enough birds survive to carry on.

Here, the 2 remaining nestlings can be seen.  Notice they are looking more robin-like as their feathers develop and grow.

The parents would scold people walking by the nest.  Here one of the birds, a worm in its beak, races across the ground away from the nest area attempting to lure the photographer away- this trick worked!

Here is father robin singing from a nearby tree, proclaiming the area his territory.

Then in mid-June, the nest became empty as the fledglings left the nest.  I could hear them in the bushes, but never got a glimpse of them- they stayed well-hidden.  The parents continued to bring them food.  After a while, the area was robin-free.  The birds had presumably made it on their own, learning how to feed themselves.  Here’s an image from another location at about the same time of a good-sized spot-breasted fledgling robin still being fed by a parent until they get the hang of eating on their own.

About a week ago, I saw a few robins not far from the nest area.  One squawked at me as if they remembered me and my camera!  I wondered if they could have been the family that I’d been watching from a respectful distance since May.  Here is one of them.

Robins are fascinating birds.  They are North America’s most numerous thrush, found in a wide variety of environments.  They have adapted well to people.  I focused more on the nesting experience in this post, but if you want to find out more about them, this FAQ page at the Journey North American Robin website is a great place to start.