Thursday, July 06, 2006

A Robin's Tale - Chapter 2

The robin's try again. (6/8/06) (Click pictures for larger views) Posted by Picasa
"I'm youth, I'm joy, I'm a little bird that has broken out of the egg." ~ Sir James M. Barrie
The robins are trying again, a new nesting site, a new nest, and hopefully a better outcome than previously. Their choice of accommodations is much better than the sticky holly bush; this time the tall cedar at one end of the yard, with more branches to shield from the weather and a clean slate, no building on top of another nest. So here we begin, three blue robin eggs, new hope.

This story in pictures continues. Click "read more" below.


The robins are getting the hang of this; carefully sitting on the nest. The nest is sturdy, straight, level and one day there are three, tiny, ugly little babies. Just a touch of fuzz, no feathers; they look like miniature Cornish hens already plucked. Momma sits on them, keeping their little bodies warm. Papa is doing his part looking for food.


Already a little bigger, the babies still have floppy heads. When I moved the small branch to get a picture, one tried to open his mouth but just wobbled it a bit. Tomorrow they will be a bit bigger.


Four days old and look at those mouths. The head wobble is almost gone and they are giving Mom and Dad robin HUGE targets for feeding. It's a reflex now, they feel movement and the mouths come open. See those big dark eyes are still closed.


Those eyes are starting to open, and look, I see a few feathers growing on those tiny wings. The robins have done much better this time. First time around three had already been lost from the slanted nest.


One week old today and the eyes are wide open as are those mouths. The little one at the bottom reminds me of Einstein with those two rowdy tufts of gray fluff on his head. Their nakedness is finally starting to be covered with small feathers. Each time I take their pictures, momma and daddy screech and chirp at me.


Three little birds growing strong and filling out the nest. It looks good for this small family. But then....... the rains came. First the fronts marching across from the west dump a couple of inches. Then the remnants of Alberto move up the coast with flooding rains up and down the Atlantic seaboard. Heavy rain, at times up to an inch an hour. Some wind, but mostly just rain. I can't check the nest for three days.

Finally, the rain stops and I look in the cedar bush to find the robin nest in shambles. The mud-lined nest is water logged, the sides folded in, the bottom gone. The babies are gone! I look down and there out in the yard, huddled together are the three babies. Mom and Dad robin are hysterically screeching, and these babies are completely exposed to weather, predators, and lawn mowers. So, I get a soft towel and gather them together. I put them under a very thick bush in the flowerbed, with access for the parents. Later, they have scattered. One is hiding under the pumpkin plants; another has hopped into our back yard and now faces a horrible danger..... Max.

We had to do something. Leave it to my Dad to come up with a plan. He took a round plastic bowl about the same size as their original nest. He drilled holes in the bottom for water drainage and in the sides to secure it to the cedar bush. We used pipe cleaners to anchor the bowl to the bush; then put pine needles, soft lint from the dryer and part of the remaining old nest in the bottom. I put the two chicks back into their new nest.


Sadly, I never found the third chick. I hope the parents knew where he wandered off and kept an eye on him. These two were scared, Mom robin was hysterical, but they snuggled down in the new artificial nest after their ordeal. Would the parents still feed them? Would they throw them out of this foreign nest? Would I have to figure out how to feed these babies?


I hid behind my van and waited. Mom robin perched in the plum tree and sounded the alarm for several minutes, but finally flew into the bush to check her chicks. Here they are, safe and sound two days later, obviously fed and waiting to fly. On July 1st, I heard momma robin chirping and chirping from her tree and the faint reply from the chicks in the cedar bush. I quietly approached and saw the babies, now fledglings, perching on the edge of their plastic home; furiously flapping their fully feathered wings. A moment later and before I could focus my camera; they flew off with Mom and Dad robin right behind. Both made it to other bushes safely; we'll have to let the parents take it from here.

Now our man made condo is empty. We are toying with the idea of cleaning it out and leaving it. Perhaps another family might see its potential?

Oh, by the way. A young cardinal couple has moved into the neighborhood. Their nest in the crepe myrtle tree is almost finished.......

Robins are boarding Friday's Ark this week; hosted by Modulator. (end of post)

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