Every Spring, I wait to see the Robins. When they show up in large masses and fill the Maple Trees, I know Spring is here to stay.
This year, we got a special present from one of the Robins and her mate. They built their nest in the tree in front of the house, right at the level where we can watch the babies from our window.
Like most North Americans, we know a Robin with their Red Breast, but I don’t know much about them, except they have blue eggs and a red breast.
I figured with Momma willing to share her family experience with us, it was time to learn a thing or two about Robins.
Now I can share with you, a lesson in Robins.
Momma and Papa bird, share the season together. They mate for the season, not for life.
The male bird helps to build the next, but the female is the one who chooses where it will be built.
When she chooses the location, she is looking for a place five feet to twenty feet off the ground. They build their nest out of materials they find, including, twigs, dirt, straw, wool, and hair, and may have up to three nesting a year. Each nest they build takes two to six-day to build.
They will build their nest near other Robins, but like space between them, to be able to protect their nest. Robins consider nesting a private experience, but if one nest is under attack, many neighboring Robins will come to help protect the next.
Robins do not build a nest in birdhouses but do like nesting shelves. If you want to attract Robins to your area, placing nesting shelves can attract them if they are placed at least five feet above ground on walls or poles that doesn’t allow easy access.
The female will lay three to seven light blue eggs, laid up to one day apart each. She will incubate the eggs for twelve to fourteen days, sitting on the eggs for about forty minutes before taking a break. She will stand, turns the eggs and then flies off to return to repeat the process.
The male stands on guard to help protect the nest. He feeds the young, and will occasionally sit on the eggs, but mostly he leaves that job for momma.
Once the chicks have hatched, feeding them is a full-time job for both parents. They eat between thirty-five to forty meals a day. In between feeds, the parents keep the nests clean by carrying away or eating the chicks’ fecal sacs.
The chick’s diet is that of the parents, with eating mostly earthworms in the morning, when they are easiest to find in the softer morning soil. Earthworms and other invertebrates like beetles, grasshoppers, and other insects make up forty percent of their diet and through out the day, they eat mostly fruit.
The chicks go on a rapid growth spurt. From hatching to time to leave the nest, happens in two weeks.
When they first leave the nest, the chick is unable to fly. They jump to higher branches in the nesting tree and sometimes take a tumble to the ground. They mostly are unharmed by the fall and the parents will continue to care for them.
If taken into the house of humans who think they are rescuing a bird that is not injured and who do not know how to properly care for the chick, most chicks will die. If left alone, the young are found on the ground and continue to be cared for by the parents.
It is best to leave the chick alone but if there is a concern for it being in the open, with a gloved hand or cloth over your hand, you can place them under a nearby shrub for protection until the adults find them and continue feeding them.
The adult birds can see a block away. Because you don’t see the parents does not mean they do not see you. They also have fine-tuned listening skills and will find their young as long as you don’t remove them from the area where you found them.
When the following Spring arrives, the babies of this year, become the parents of next year.
If you see a vacant nest from this year, leave it alone. Robins do not use the same nest but can build on top of the old nest. These birds will return to the same territories from season to season.
If the nest is left at the end of the season, leave it where it is. They may rebuild on top of it the following year, or you may get another family the next year. It’s not uncommon to find Doves reusing a Robins nest to lay their eggs and raise young in.
And I say each time I post anything about our gift of wildlife, stay away from pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. Robins forage largely on lawns for their food, making them vulnerable to poisoning.