Monday, August 8, 2011

Baby Robins

Robin chicks in their nest (c) John Ashley
Four yellow beaks (if you look closely) of ready-to-fledge Robins
The four young Robins have finally fledged from their nest on our front porch. Robins are relatively quick nesters, but they aren't always tidy about the whole home front thing.

Baby Robin portrait (c) John Ashley
Just-fledged Robin showing mottled breast feathers
A few days after I spotted juvenile Robins in the nearby woods, a pair of adult Robins started building a nest on top of the log truss in the center of the porch. This was likely their second nest of the season.

Every day for nearly a week, the female dropped almost half of the nest-building material that she'd brought in. We stepped around the fallen twigs and lichens at first, but she didn't show any interest in reusing anything she had dropped. The female (gray head feathers) made all of the deliveries while the male (black head feathers) followed her back and forth, mate-guarding to protect the paternity of their eggs.

Juvenile Robins (c) John Ashley
Bad hair day for baby Robins
During 14 days of incubation, the female flew off in alarm if we stopped to look up, but she stayed hunkered in her nest if we just walked by. She soon trained us to use the other door.

A week or so after hatching, we could see four yellowish beaks poking up around the edge of the nest. We were gone when the first two fledged from their nest. The last two fledgelings spent time on the ground, begging for the parents to bring food. When the neighbor's dog took notice, and went to investigate, she was immediately mobbed by four adult Robins who appeared out of nowhere. The fledgling was saved.

After the juveniles loose their downy feathers, you can identify them by their mottled breast feathers.