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June 29, 2013 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Nestwatch – American Robin

One of the birding activities I’m involved in is Project Nestwatch, a citizen science program. It is a nationwide monitoring project designed to track status and trends of nesting birds. I try to find nests that are easy to observe and not disturb the birds. For the last few years I monitored a Barn Swallow nest in a picnic pavilion, but this year the nest was knocked down twice and finally abandoned by the birds. Most likely it was destroyed by picnickers who didn’t like birds defending their nest by swooping down at them. A lot of people don’t understand that it’s illegal to disturb an active nest and it’s a difficult law to enforce.

Last month a pair of sneaky robins built a nest in my maple tree so I had a nest to observe right outside my front door. I call them sneaky because they managed to build the nest and incubate four eggs before I noticed them! That’s three weeks of bird activity next to one of my gardens that I didn’t notice. Robins have become ubiquitous to me. I need to pay more attention to them.

Robin's Nest in Maple Tree

My first clue that I had a robin’s nest nearby was a tiny blue eggshell on my front step and another on the back deck. When the egg hatches, the robin removes the shell from nest and deposits it away from the nest, usually about 50 feet. Once I knew there were hatchlings I watched for adult robins carrying small insects to feed the young, and observed where they went. The nest was well hidden behind large maple leaves. I couldn’t see much but I could tell there were four little beaks. Robins usually lay four eggs per clutch and will raise two or three broods per year.

Fledgling Robin Leaving Nest

Since I knew the hatch date I could calculate the date the babies would fledge and leave the nest. Baby robins stay in the nest 13 to 14 days. On day thirteen I began watching for activity but those babies were happy being fed and weren’t leaving. By the time I checked the nest the next day, two of them were already gone. The last two were thinking about it and one was venturing out on a branch. That’s him in the photo above.

The little robin’s balance wasn’t very good and he slipped from the branch and fluttered to the ground and began running. On his wobbly legs he ran through the wood chips and then onto the river rock. He doesn’t know how to fly yet, and with that tiny little tail it would be difficult to try.

Fledgling Robin

Next, he ran into the grass.

Fledgling Robin

The fledglings always have a look of wonder and confusion on their faces as they explore their new surroundings.


And finally he was located by dad who immediately began pulling worms from the grass and feeding him. The male takes care of the fledglings while the female attends to any young still in the nest.


Saturday Snapshot was originated by Alyce at At Home With Books. For the summer it will be hosted by Melinda of West Metro Mommy. Visit her blog to see more great photos or add your own.

© 2013 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.



Leave a Comment
  1. Suko / Jun 29 2013 12:51 pm

    How beautiful these pictures are! Robins are wonderful and I enjoyed learning more about them.


    • Leslie / Jun 29 2013 1:10 pm

      Watching robins nest in my yard was what got me interested in learning more about wild birds. They are very accessible and don’t mind people as long as we don’t get too close.


  2. Ginny / Jun 29 2013 2:06 pm

    Thanks for the bird information on my post. That is encouraging to hope that his parents probably found him. I love the picture of the nest up in the tree.


    • Leslie / Jun 29 2013 2:10 pm

      The parents will be looking for a missing baby. A few years ago I took an injured baby robin to the wildlife rehab and the parents were searching the yard and calling for him and I felt so bad I couldn’t tell them he went to the animal hospital.


  3. Beth Hoffman / Jun 29 2013 2:41 pm

    Oh Leslie, your photos are wonderful! Those little fledglings are precious.


    • Leslie / Jun 29 2013 2:58 pm

      Thanks! They are so cute to watch. Now if the cardinals would only build a nest in my yard! I even let the Rose of Sharon bushes grow tall for them but no, they prefer the neighbors’ yards.


  4. laurelrainsnow / Jun 29 2013 2:49 pm

    Lovely shots! The first two are especially “artful” in how you framed them with the greenery and branches.

    Thanks for sharing…and for visiting my blog.


    • Leslie / Jun 29 2013 2:51 pm

      Thanks! I’ll take credit for cropping the photo but momma robin gets credit for placing the nest in a lovely grouping of leaves.


  5. booketta / Jun 29 2013 3:07 pm

    Beautiful photos! We met NT bird watchers at one of their reserves last week on the IOW. They record their sightings but sadly these are only posted as figures in the annual review.


  6. dyane / Jun 29 2013 3:10 pm

    Robins are my all time favorite bird thanks so much for sharing all your info and wonderful shots.


  7. Susan / Jun 29 2013 3:25 pm

    The light in that first shot is just perfect! Great photo!


  8. joyweesemoll / Jun 29 2013 5:01 pm

    That last photo is so sweet. Loved seeing these!


  9. DoingDewey / Jun 29 2013 6:28 pm

    Great pictures! They all have so much personality 🙂


  10. BermudaOnion / Jun 29 2013 7:37 pm

    We have a robin’s nest on our front porch. I suspected the eggs had hatched several days ago and we finally saw two little heads peek up over the nest yesterday. They’re still pretty wobbly, though, so there could be two more in there. I’ve banned everyone from our front door while they’re in the nest.


  11. Mary / Jun 29 2013 9:20 pm

    Wonderful photos and post, Leslie.


  12. Wrighty / Jun 29 2013 9:48 pm

    I love the photos and info you provided. So beautiful! We have robins’ nests all over the place here so I always enjoy learning more about them. Fascinating!


  13. Brona / Jun 30 2013 4:37 am

    What an amazing sequence of photos.
    I really admire your dedication and interest in your local birding community 🙂


  14. Beth F / Jun 30 2013 5:42 am

    I love the look on the fledglings’ faces. We have seen at least one youngster in our yard.


  15. drbethnolan / Jun 30 2013 5:44 am

    I always love your bird pictures – really amazing shots! Plus I learn something, too! 🙂 =beth Beth’s Book-Nook Blog


  16. Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader / Jun 30 2013 9:18 am

    Wonderful photos as usual 🙂 SO CUTE!!


  17. Elizabeth / Jun 30 2013 1:22 pm

    What great photos….Adorable birdies.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Silver’s Reviews
    My Saturday Snapshot


  18. mdott922 / Jul 3 2013 7:00 pm

    Great pictures! My daughter loves robins!


  19. MarthaE / Jul 5 2013 9:23 pm

    What wonderful photos. So glad the parents look out for the little fledglings.
    I wonder why I always think of big fat robins? One day we had about twenty (what I think were) big fat robins in our front yard but by the time I got to my camera they had flown away. 😦



  1. Weekend Birding: Robin Fledglings | Under My Apple Tree

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