Posts Tagged ‘summer in Idaho’

Robin Territory – Part 4 – Montana Robins (??)

October 4, 2020

Robin Territory – Part 4. It’s been almost three months since the two baby robins fledged. Summer is over and I just can’t stop thinking about the robin family that nested in our back yard this past summer. Because of Covid-19 we spent a great deal of time on our back deck watching the robins. I got so attached to the family – it seems we had two families living at our house, the Caraher family (David, Megan and I) and the robin family.

My last blog (Part 3 of the robin story) left off on July 12. One of the babies fledged on July 11, and the second one still hadn’t fledged by early evening on July 12. But on the morning of July 13, the nest was empty. The second robin had fledged sometime after 7 pm on the 12th! Where was he? (BTW – to keep things simple I’m calling all the robins “hims” – please, no offense ladies.)

I heard him first – in a bush up against our east fence. Here, I captured a photo of him:

July 13, 11:25 am

He stayed perched in that bush for over six hours, his parents flying to him to feed him. The other baby showed up on the west side of our yard. Boy those parents were busy. I fear this may be the last I saw of this little bird, as the next day and all the days going forward we saw only one baby robin.

It was such a thrill to watch this robin family. The fledglings chase after their parents and beg for food – the parents continue feeding them for one to three weeks! (Largely depending on how busy the parents are, I imagine.)

Here is a video I took of our little baby – begging for food and stalking his daddy (ha) – on July 20, 8 days after he fledged:

The family hung together. Whenever I’d see one robin in the back yard I’d look for the rest of them, because the parents were never far away from their little one.

Most baby robins die their first year. It was such a thrill to spot our little baby, knowing he made it through another day, as if he pulled a coup! You could spot him from a distance because of his breast – not orange but a distinctive speckled, almost glowing, brown breast.

There he is! Perched on our birdbath on August 2.

Look at me! So brave

And one of his parents was right above him, coaching him, you can do it! Take a dip!

I got to where the first thing I would do every morning was look for the robins, clean out and refill the birdbath. The robins sure knew how to take a bath, flipping their wings and tail feathers. It was wonderful to clean and fill the bath, and then watch them hop in and indulge themselves thoroughly. Robins know how to live. Work hard, play hard. Work as a team. Take good care of each other, nurture, feed, and mentor the young.

Into September we started seeing six or more robins in our back yard at one time. We’d run the sprinklers and a large group would be out there scavenging, cleaning up the ‘debris’ that had been washed up out of the lawn. A robin landed on the bird bath and was chased off! Our family was protecting their territory.

But then one morning, Monday, September 22, no robins. What? Where were they? Perhaps scavenging in a neighbor’s lawn three doors down? Surely they’ll return. David, Megan and I took a long walk through our neighborhood, into Rose Hill Cemetery where we always see gobs of robins. We didn’t see a one.

By Tuesday it was clear. The robins were gone. Without fanfare. No gathering in a huge flock, flying in V formation, announcing their departure in song across the sky. That’s just not their style. They just disappear. I was devastated. Which seems a bit stupid. What’s the problem? We’ve had robins every summer at this house for the past twenty years. Every year they’ve disappeared. But I’ve never really noticed, have I? Until this year. I had grown so attached to our robin family that I just wasn’t prepared to say good-bye.

A couple of days later, I met and chatted with a woman who was a Master Naturalist. I mentioned that the robins were gone. She said, yes. Our area here in southeast Idaho served as their breeding grounds and now they had migrated. But soon we should see some robins migrating here from Montana. Huh.

Sure enough, within a few days a few robins began to appear again. They looked slightly different from our robins, a little larger, darker faces perhaps, and maybe a bit more white around their tails. We spotted one in our back yard. Here – I took a photo:

September 27, Montana robin sighting!

I honestly just couldn’t get too excited about it. But I did go and clean the birdbath. And sure enough, he discovered it. Every time we looked out and saw the robin we’d say, “Oh, look – there’s the Montana robin!”

I snapped a photo of the robin on the bird bath this past Tuesday:

‘Gun-totin’ Montana Robin

I swear he looks like he’s sporting a holster and gun.

(Okay, I know. She could be a gun-totin’ female.)

I’ve been warming up to him since then. He’s adopted our back yard as his place to hang and scavenge for worms, bugs, and berries. He’s turned out to be a rather cool dude. Here you see a video I took of him yesterday in the bird bath:

Yeah, well, not getting too attached. I don’t think he’ll be sticking around long. We all know what kind of weather is coming down the pike.


A Robin’s Nest

August 8, 2014

Saturday morning, July 26. We’re out relaxing on the back deck with Rudy

IMG_8667

or “Little Lord Fauntleroy” as David affectionately calls him.

We spot a robin’s nest in one of our giant honey locust trees- with a nesting robin!

IMG_8651

The nest is about 8 feet off the ground, maybe 20 feet from where we are sitting.

The next day, Sunday, we discover 2 hatchlings.

IMG_8700

When did they hatch? (Robins eggs incubate for 12-14 days. So that mother built the nest and has been nesting for at least two weeks! How did we miss it?)

When to expect this clutch of robins to ‘fledge’ or fly the nest? I research it online. Nestlings fledge at about 14-16 days old. (Did these babies just hatch out?)

I keep an eye on the nest all the following week. The weather is hot and sunny – in the low 90’s all week, and the mother is nesting, mostly, I believe to keep the babies cool.

In the evening she is off the nest for long periods. The father is always nearby. Here he is guarding the nest from above.

IMG_8678

And preening himself from below

IMG_8692

Rudy got dive-bombed by a robin when he ventured on that side of the back yard. The doggie frisbee fetching game, which David mostly plays with Rudy, I have forbidden until further notice, since both the dog and David get carried away forgetting which direction is unsafe for a Frisbee, sailing through the air at 20-30 mph. …

Although this is the safe end of the yard, the Frisbee could just as likely be sailing through the other end of the yard where the robins are nesting. It’s a miracle the Frisbee hasn’t sliced the nest out of the tree already.

Friday, August 1st, six days after sighting the nest, a big wind swept through our back yard.

Okay, so the wind had kinda waned by the time I captured it on video – but the initial blast of wind shot me out of my chair in the den, where I was watching TV, to check on the birds. The wind didn’t even sway the nest, to my surprise. The wind (and Rudy’s bark!) warned of more dangers that lurk to destroy the chances of survival for young robins.

It’s Saturday again. 7 days from when we first discovered the nest. 11:45 AM. I am relaxing on the deck – have just opened a book, when a black and white gooey blob of bird poop hits the bulls-eye – right on my head – drips down my forehead. “Wha-the?..” Was that on purpose? I look for adult robins straight up into the trees above me, but see no visible perpetrators. Wily! Into the house I march to clean up my hair, face, glasses, shirt, and – finally I’m back out again.

I look over at the nest – one hatchling is perched up on the side of the nest – oh my goodness!

IMG_8737

I took a video:

The outside temperature is already soaring toward 90 degrees.

By 12:10 we’ve noticed the first bird (a fledgling now!) has jumped onto a tree limb

IMG_8739

“They fledge because an instinct tells them they must, ” is how one article put it. At 12-14 days their brains are ripe to learn a lot of important skills – to walk, hop, balance on branches … it’s time to get started! (Okay – so that nest has been there at least 4 weeks!)

The mother (or father) comes with food. Which bird do you think gets the worm?

Awwwwww. That’s motivating! The first fledgling! The bird out of the nest gets the worm! (What can humans learn from this? – “if you want to be fed, you must be out of the nest.” hmmmm …)

The second bird is out and up on the side of the nest now

IMG_8755

We keep watching – It’s 1:15 now. For the past hour, the first fletchling has been balancing, standing, shaking, chirping, pruning her feathers (okay, could be a ‘he’) mustering up the courage to jump! – since the baby birds can’t fly yet.

IMG_8756

I go off to do something in the house. Return at 2:05 – 50 minutes later. The first fledgling has hopped off and is gone! The second fledgling has hopped off the nest and is perched down the limb about six feet away from the nest.

IMG_8797

IMG_8786

The second fledgling stood there for the longest time – preening his feathers, exercising his legs, checking out his balance, chirping, stretching his wings, mustering up all his courage – to jump!
I watched him for quite a while – Thought I might catch him jump in a video:

His mom or dad came with another worm, too. “You can do it!” they seemed to be chirping at him from not far away. Megan kept watch while I finally went off to do other things in the house. Finally at 3:18 (75 minutes later!) the bird jumped. Megan saw it and called out to me. I ran out and captured it on video just as it hopped to the end of the back yard into the peonies.

Meanwhile …. a third beak poked up out of the nest. The runt! I had seen a tiny third beak poking up between the other two – just once in the past week. I thought that bird had died. Hadn’t seen it at all amidst all this other activity.

IMG_8760

Oh my goodness. Where has he been all this time? He is so much tinier than the other two – surely mom and dad will let him stay in the nest another day or two till he’s ready? He’s a late bloomer. Probably got bullied in the nest by the other two all along. He just needs a little time to catch up.

What do you think? Does he stay or does he fledge today? ….