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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Home Sweet Nest

We’re foster parents (sort of) to robin quadruplets.  Here’s what was in the little cedar tree on the front lawn earlier this week. robin eggs0509 (1)The female robin begins incubating, or warming, the eggs after the last egg is laid, and then continues incubating for an average of 12 days. She often sits on the eggs for 40-minute periods, then stands on the rim of the nest, turns the eggs, and flies off for a break.

Within the past couple of days . . . the eggs hatched.

robin nest 0513 (2)Baby robins are undeveloped, with very few feathers and bulging eyes. You can see how large bird eyes are beneath their transparent skin and translucent skull. When their feathers grow in, only a small portion of those huge eyes are visible.

robin nest 0513 (1)Down feathers grow in fairly quickly to make the nestlings a little fluffy, so they can stay warm when their mother isn't incubating.

robin nest 0513 (4)Mama and papa robin have been kept busy making frequent food runs. The young weigh about 5.5 g when they hatch. Fed by both parents, they each receive an average of 35 to 40 meals a day.

one to feed (1)When they first hatch, they don’t “know” their parents, but know the parents have arrived with food by the”bounce” they feel on the nest, or on a sunny day by the shadow their parents cast over them. This is their signal to pop up with their mouths open. one to feed (3)Gradually, the baby robins start learning the sounds their parents make. By the time their eyes open, they already know their parents' by their “voices.”two to feed (4)Baby robins are voracious eaters and can consume up to 14 feet of earthworms every day.two to feed (1)It takes only about 2 weeks or 14 days for these small and unformed birds to grow a full body covering of feathers. By then, their eyes are open and they are able to hop and flutter their wings. three to feedBy the time the young robins are about a week old, the nest is getting crowded. They can keep themselves warm by snuggling together. At this point, the mother robin starts sleeping on a tree branch, but clearly in sight of the nest. Often, she feeds the young cautiously. Robins are so fearful of alerting predators that they don't go near the nest if they notice any observers, human or otherwise.

Baby robins jump from their nest at about 13 days. It takes them another 10-15 days to become strong fliers and independent birds.

Hopefully, these young’uns will still be OK by the time we return from our NC road trip next weekend. We hope to watch them grow.

The miracle of new life is simply amazing and very beautiful.

14 comments:

Montanagirl said...

Great post! Nice series of photos.

thecottagebythecranelakeolof1 said...

I would like to write AAAH so cute, but they aren´t really :-) :-)
Great post and it´s amazing how fast they become independent! I´ve never seen a robins nest and How wonderful blue those eggs are. I guess this is an american Robin? If I remember right our robins look a bit different and I wonder if our robins have those beautiful blue colored eggs too.

Have a great day!
Christer.

*Honest Abe said...

Beautiful photos.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Mona & Abe, Thanks for the compliments - coming from 2 fellow nature photographers, they are much appreciated. Luckily, this nest is in a short cedar tree. I can stand next to it an look in. Thankfully, the parents were away when the photos were taken, but I'm sure they were close by. The camera was a new Canon S130IS with macro capability. Easy to handhold and get it close.

Christer, yes these are American Robins and the eggs were that blue and beautiful. I agree that these young are not beautiful, but within a couple of weeks they will be good looking fledglings. I hope they will survive to adulthood as we have several cats (neighbors that prowl around). When the birds fledge and leave the nest (sometimes fall out) they are quite vulnerable. We're away next week, and when we return home their growth will be amazing.

possum said...

I wish I could get shots of my cardinal's nests, but they bury them deep in thick bushes, so nt a chance. I see the papa flying in and out and hear the tiny cheeps, so I know they have hatched.
Great shots.

Daisy said...

Great pictues, Beatrice. It will be fun to watch these little birds as they grow. Enjoy your Sunday! :)

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Thanks Possum & Daisy, we will keep the blog updated if we can get a few more shots when we come home.

Anvilcloud said...

Once upon a time, a family nested in a a hanging pot of flowers on our back deck. Cuppa took videos, and we probably still have them somewhere. They were on tape, before the digital age (at least in terms of photography) got underway.

Linda (PA_shutterbug) said...

What wonderful pictures you have of your "foster children"!

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

AC, we have a video camera which Grenville always forgets to use.

Thanks Linda, we think they are wonderful and look forward to seeing them leave home - doesn't every "parent?"

Elaine said...

I love those wide-open mouths! Interesting facts about the baby robins. I never see the nests here--too many hiding places in the trees. I do get to see them when they are bigger and exploring the world.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Elaine, we are wondering how these little ones are doing and looking forward to seeing how much they've grown on our return home.

Cicero Sings said...

a great photo sequence!

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Thanks Eileen, we are looking forward to seeing how they have grown on our return home this weekend. Hopefully, an updated post will follow.

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