Monday, April 18, 2016

Happy Earth Day, It's Robin Season!

Robin Distracting Me

I've been watching a pair of robins in our front yard for the past few weeks. I first noticed them because they were spending a lot of time together, hopping around in the branches outside of our sunroom and making our (inside) cat hyperventilate. Then one day I went out to water some plants and came face to face with one of them sitting on a beautiful nest, carefully hidden in the shadows of a camellia bush. I got a photo of what I presume to be the mama sitting on the nest and the papa nervously watching from a magnolia tree 10 or so feet away. As I expressed more interest in the nest, the father became very agitated and flew down to the grass and ran the other direction toward some bushes. I think he was trying to distract me and guide me away from his family. I got the message and tried to steer clear, though it is a little difficult as they built their nest by our front door and mailbox. I changed my strategy and made most of my observations from the living room window, though the very safe location of their nest made it very hard to see well. And the parents can still see me through the window, which makes them nervous.

Sitting on the Nest, Tucked in the Dark Camellia

A week or so later, the sitting parent was off of the nest and I saw at least 2 pretty blue eggs! Unable to control my urges, I decided to try to get a photo of the eggs. But as I came in closer to the bush, I saw that the robin parent was sitting again and was very scared, so I gave up on the egg shot.

Over the weekend I saw a chance to peek in the nest and saw a couple of tiny fluff balls. They had hatched! But I felt terrible after getting this shot because I scared the parent away from the nest and into another tree where he/she remained for 5-10 minutes. I went inside to give them some space and security and watched cautiously from the window, hoping that nothing happened to the unattended chicks.

Fluff Balls

The next day I heard a bluejay scolding some crows that were marauding nests in another part of the yard and I was very worried about our little robins. Later that afternoon I found blue eggshells on the sidewalk, probably the result of the crow raid earlier. We have quite a few robins in the yard this year. I resolved to stay away from the camellia bush so that I would not to give away the location to the crows. They are very smart and observant.

Robin's Eggs

Today I went out to get the mail and saw (from a distance) the open beaks and fuzzy heads of two hungry chicks, mom or pop standing alert at the edge of the nest. The other parent was busy gathering bugs from the leaf litter. I hurried inside and got my camera and long lens and caught some shots of both parents feeding the youngsters. I hid myself against a wall and stayed as far away from the nest as I could to still see the action. It was so sweet to see the hungry mouths open and be filled with yummy bugs, and then see the tiny creatures settle down in satisfaction and exhaustion. It is hard work to hold your head up when you are so tiny! And those poor, dedicated robin parents--they will be running most of the time for the next few weeks until their chicks fledge and move on.

Delicious Lunch from One Parent

More Food from Other Parent

Open Wide!

Finally--We Were Starving!


Even though I tried to be respectful and careful, the robins always knew I was there and held back from returning to the nest with food. They didn't want to lead me or any other predator to their nest. So this will probably be the beginning and end of my robin nest photos. Even though I would love to get photos of them eating and maturing, I also want them to survive. It seems that all my attempts to observe them cause a change in their behavior, and they have a hard enough time without my help. So I'll just leave them alone. This is one of the messages I try to convey to children on our nature center trail walks--to love AND respect nature. I'll show my love for these robins by respecting them. Happy Earth Day Everyone!

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