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A Robin’s Nest in Spring.

July 2, 2011

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.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. July 2, 2011 7:42 pm

    For a couple of years in a row I had robins build nests in the wreath on my front door. This caused several problems – including not being able to take the wreath down, the mess on our front door. The worst was that we couldn’t use our front door, although we didn’t realize this until we opened it one day and one of the robins flew into our house. This was the first year in many that I chanced putting a wreath on our door in the spring – luckily they’ve found better nesting places, at least for now!

  2. July 2, 2011 9:14 pm

    What a terrific series of photos! It’s really nice to see them go through their nesting cycle and you got some great shots!

  3. July 3, 2011 2:30 pm

    It’s great that you were able to document so many part of the story. Having the nest in the human world made that possible.

  4. onesweetiepea permalink
    July 3, 2011 7:45 pm

    Some lovely photos there. I especially like the ones of the chicks peeking out the nest. 🙂

  5. July 3, 2011 8:06 pm

    Wow. Beautiful series of photos. You are lucky to host and watch the growth of these beautiful little birds.

  6. Jen Payne permalink
    July 4, 2011 7:44 am

    Wonderful photos! And sweet that the parents allowed you to be so close!

    I became similarly fond of a family of robins here. On Flying Lessons Day One, a local cat took a front row seat on the picnic table. When I heard the mama bird’s shrieking, I raced out and stood guard over one little one who had flown to the ground but was waiting for the “How to Get Back Up” lesson. Everyone seemed appreciative…except the cat!

  7. July 5, 2011 12:55 am

    The photos are fabulous! They make me want to get a new camera. I’ve been thinking and talking about it, but haven’t moved on it yet. Wonderful series.

  8. July 5, 2011 12:24 pm

    This is fantastic! Thank you for taking us through these birds’ journey. All of your posts bring back great memories. My mom was (still is) an avid bird watcher. She used to task me with operating a remote camera that was pointed at a nest of blue jays in our yard. I wasn’t often sick from school, but when I was, I usually spent the better part of the day taking pictures of birds 🙂

  9. July 5, 2011 10:54 pm

    Watching life unfold in nature is such a treat. I love to watch the nature webcams. This winter the camera in the bear den was exciting again and this Spring the Dacorah Eagles hatching … that is the kind of reality show I like. Thanks for sharing your robin pictures and story.

  10. July 6, 2011 12:10 pm

    Thanks for all of the nice comments, everyone! Hopefully the robins will be nesting nearby again to provide us with more entertainment 🙂

  11. Janice Lopez permalink
    March 15, 2018 9:35 am

    Good morning,
    I am requesting permission to utilize one of the pictures of a robin nest on lamp that you have posted on your website.

    Please let me know if this is possible.

    Thank you so much.


    • March 15, 2018 12:09 pm

      Thanks for posting, Janice- and yes you have permission to use whatever pictures you find here, as long as you credit this site and/or link back to the page where it was found.

      Thanks again!


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