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. 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.
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.
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. 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.”Baby robins are voracious eaters and can consume up to 14 feet of earthworms every day.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. By 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.