They weren’t rockin’ robins (tweet, tweedley tweet)…..but the robins built a sloped nest that made for rocky babies….as in ‘rock-a-bye baby in the tree top….and the cradle will fall’….and the whole nine yards.

Here’s the story:

Sunday July 1st we return home from a camping trip.  Jim notices our  new patio table has a bunch of debris on it from the tree above, but doesn’t see anything as he inspects the branches above the table.  He doesn’t mention it to me.

Thursday July 5th there’s more debris on the table and I look up and see a nest in the tree!  Oh my gosh!  I photographed the nesting bird (and posted it on Facebook) to figure out what it is….and learned it’s an American Robin.

I wonder if there’s eggs?

July 7th (a Saturday), we put a ladder beneath the nest so we could see if there’s any eggs.  It was too high to look inside so we grabbed a camera and snapped a picture:

There’s eggs!  FOUR of them!  So I do some Googling and learn that robins typically lay one egg a day until there’s 4, and they stop.  (Rumor has it you can trick them by taking an egg away every day and they’ll continue laying until there’s 4- but I’ve also read that is illegal).  I learned that the eggs incubate for 12-14 days then hatch.  Baby robins will stay in the nest for another 12-14 days or so, then fall to the ground and live on the ground for 2-3 days before flying away.  The robins are super clean- they don’t want anyone to know where their nest is so they take away all the poo and egg debris to ensure their super-secret location.  I also learned that only the mama will sit on the eggs.  And that robins will become aggressive and dive-bomb to protect their nests.  Hmmm…..

I didn’t like the location of the nest (above our patio table and close to the back door) but we decided we’d keep an eye on it and see how it goes.  If we have problems then we’ll just take the nest down after they leave so we don’t have a recurrence next year.

Not exactly sure how long the nest was there, nor how many days the eggs have been there, we started keeping a daily watch.  Mama robin is frequently (but not constantly) sitting on the eggs and she seems comfortable with me checking on her periodically.  I would walk outside mabe 10 times a day to see if she’s sitting on the nest, because if she’s not, then I’ll grab my camera and climb the ladder to take a picture so I can see how the eggs are doing.  She sees me doing this, sometimes she’s just sitting on the back fence watching me.  A couple times I went outside to look and she was sitting on the nest and she looked at me then flew away- it was like she knew what I wanted!

On the morning if July 15th (a Sunday) we found more debris on the table and a teeny tiny fragment of shell:

Do you see it?  The teeny tiny blue fleck to the bottom right of the pine needle?

So I climbed the ladder, expecting to see a freshly hatched egg and here’s what I saw:

Looks like someone stole a cookie from the cookie jar.  Bummer.

More daily climbs and snapshots.

Finally on July 18th (13 days after finding the eggs!) an egg hatches!

Oh my gosh!  This has to be super fresh, look how teeny tiny he is, not much bigger than the eggs!  Oh my gosh- oh my gosh!

Later in the day I take another picture.  Look at him!

He’s so ugly and cute all at the same time!

Mama is letting me climb the ladder without concern for the safety of her babies.  I love her!  We’ve bonded.

Late that evening another egg hatches and we can hear chirping now!

#2 is still wet!!  Oh my gosh!

Here’s the first video I get of the chirping guys-

And there ends my ability to climb the ladder any longer.  Daddy robin is in the picture pretty much full-time now and if I get near the ladder he starts making all kind of racket and frankly, he scares me.

I’ll spare you the video of me climbing the ladder with daddy robin flailing around in the branches above my head getting entirely too close for my comfort, and me scrambling to get back down that ladder as fast as I can!

I resort to tying the video camera to a telescoping pole and capturing video that way….and capturing still pictures from the video since I can’t get my digital camera up there any more, either.

And here they are at 2 days old….

(Excuse the noise of the dogs playing… Brooke wasn’t helping much, either!)

When they are 3 days old, Jim gets up in the morning to take care of the dogs and announces that there was a baby robin dead on the table.  Oh no!  He appears to have fallen out of the nest?  Hmmmm……

Well, there’s still one egg left unhatched.  So I grab the camcorder again for another venture up into the tree:

(All the rattling of leaves in the videos is the daddy robin fluttering around the camera trying to scare it away.)

Hmmmmm.  Baby robin is much bigger than the egg now, and since it’s been 4 days since Baby #1 hatched I fear Egg #3 will not be hatching at all.  :(

On July 22nd (making the sole survivor of the nest 4 days old) I look out the back window to see mama bird hopping around our patio table frantically.  I look out the window and see the baby ON THE TABLE!  Ugh!  What is going on?  I walk out and look and he’s still alive, squirming around, so I grab a hospital glove and run back out and gently scoop him up and climb the ladder to put him back into his nest.  This time I climb high enough that I can get a better view of what’s going on with the nest.  The other egg is still in there, and I gently put the baby into the nest and realize that the nest is sloped- THAT’S why the babies keep falling out.


I hope he survives.

We go back inside but leave the door open and several minutes later I walk towards the back door and see the mama robin fly out of the nest and ‘swoop’ the table, then I hear a “thunk” and see the daddy robin fly away from the nest.  They kicked out the injured baby.  He died.  Ugh.

I wait a couple more days to make sure there’s nothing going on with the unhatched egg, and after determining it’s not viable I remove the nest completely from the tree.  It would have been a great educational experience and I would have loved to keep the nest there for future egg laying and hatching…..but not if this couple can’t build a nest that can contain blind squirmy hungry babies.

We still have the nest (and egg) sitting on a crate in our backyard….I feel weird throwing it away, but don’t want to keep it either! We already showed it to the kids, and showed them how tiny the egg is and how the pictures of the baby bird made the bird look so big, yet look at how small the egg is and the baby was that same size!  They were oooh’d and aaaaah’d.

The end.  Of the 2012 Robin Saga, at least.