Thursday, May 22, 2014

Baby robins on our porch

For the past few weeks we've been delightedly watching a nest of baby robins on our front porch. We noticed a mama robin paying a lot of attention to an old nest up on one of the porch pillars, so one day we climbed up and took a peek inside. There were four little blue eggs in there!

The nest was high enough up that I couldn't actually see in when standing on the porch wall, but I could reach my camera up and snap a picture so the girls and I could see what was going on in there. Thus, we had a collection of pictures that show the development of the babies from hatchlings to fledglings, which I thought would be fun to share.

Day 1 

One morning we walked outside and noticed some broken blue eggshell on the ground. Inside the nest were three very ugly pink birds, newly emerged from their shells. We weren't sure for a while, because the birds were always lying on top of each other in a jumbled heap, but I'm pretty sure the fourth egg never hatched. I'm not sure what happened to it - the nest is empty now. What does happen to eggs in nests that don't hatch? Is this a question that is better not to ask?

Day 2 

The next day the birds could lift their heads up, but the eyes still weren't fully formed and they were still pink and ugly. Actually, they didn't ever get over being ugly, but they're still baby birds, so kind of cute in their ugliness.

Day 4

After a couple more days the birds started getting some feathers and color to them.

Day 4

One of the things that surprised me most, although it shouldn't have if I'd been thinking about it, was how much the mama robin sat on her babies after they hatched. I always thought of needing to keep eggs warm so that they could develop and hatch, but not of keeping them warm after hatching. Of course, it makes perfect sense that they would need protection from the wind since they were so pink and naked when they were born. Still, it got pretty funny as the hatchlings got bigger and bigger and you could see the mama sitting on top of the babies with their heads poking out of the nest.

 Day 4

Here's another picture of the same day. You can see how nicely their feathers are developing, but how scrawny they still are.

Day 5

Our favorite part of having robins on our porch was watching the mama, and occasionally the daddy robin both feeding the babies. The adults were very skittish if we were out there, even if we were at a distance, so we usually watched from the front door windows. It was the cutest thing, to see the tiny heads bob up from the nest, stretching their necks and gaping wide open to get a piece of the worm meal.

Day 8

After a week, they were definitely not little babies any more. Look at them, with all that teenage angst in their eyes. We'd see them peering over the nest all day long, waiting for their next meal and getting bored with the cramped quarters.

 Day 14

Yesterday I noticed one of the robins had hopped out of the nest and was standing on the platform next to the nest. When he saw me, however, he quickly hopped back in. This morning when we were all out working in the garden, however, I looked up and saw there was only one bird left. He filled up almost the entire nest!

While the girls and I were watching, the mama robin flew up and brought this fledgling a worm. It was almost as tall as her, so transferring it into his mouth wasn't quite as easy as when he was a little hatchling. Then, startled by a movement we made while watching, the mama took off. The baby walked hesitantly to the edge of the pillar, made a few false starts, and finally flew quickly the few feet into my hanging basket. It was so exciting to watch that first flight!

At first, he perched on the edge as if he was planning on continuing his flight, possibly into the trees his siblings were likely hiding in. Sometimes he would stretch his body, flap his wings as if working up the courage, look down, and then think better of the scheme.

He's been there for over five hours now, and looking pretty comfortable among the flowers. I wonder if he'll manage to fly further today, or if he'll spend another day or two in the hanging basket.

It is a long way down, but you can do it, little robin!


  1. That's pretty awesome. The last one made me think of this:

  2. Haha, yes exactly! Although this last little one might not be quite as ready - the first flight was a bit difficult and more like controlled falling, and it looks like he's bedding down in my hanging basket for the night :-)