Sunday, May 29, 2011

Garden Visitors: Baby Robins

Several weeks ago, we began noticing that a pair of robins was spending a lot of time in our yard.  Although the trees in and around our yard are full of songbirds, we rarely have such close contact with them. Since they're so "people shy", I take most of the photos of birds in our yard with a telephoto lens.

Birds come to feed at our bird feeders and fly past as they go from tree to tree, but it's unusual to see them perched on the garden structures, fence and trellis.

Then, one weekend, Steve noticed robins flitting past the sliders from the family room which open onto a patio under the deck. From his vantage point just inside the glass, he became concerned that they might accidentally strike the sliding doors.
When he peeked out, he was amazed to find that the robins were building a nest atop a folding screen that had been left leaning against a portable outdoor potting sink.

We  store most of yard furniture and gardening tools under the deck for the winter and had only started moving the furniture out for spring. It usually hides a tool corner, but while moving things around and neatening up, the screen had been left in a precarious position, leaning against an outdoor portable sink.

Once the robins started building their nest, we felt we couldn't move it and hoped it would hold steady until their babies were able to leave the nest.

For several weeks, the robins stayed close to the nest, flying out and about the yard and the garden, bringing back twigs and leaves. They completed their nest and then about two and a half weeks ago, we noticed the mother robin was spending a lot of time in the nest. In fact, she would only fly off if someone approached.

Eventually we realized that the mother robin perched in the nest almost all the time, flying off for a few minutes hear and there or if someone approached. And even then, she rarely left the yard. We hesitated to try and see how many eggs; every time we stepped within ten feet of the screen on which the nest was perched, the robin flew off.

Out of deference to the robin family, our son posted a sign on the sliders, asking guests not to use the doors which opened next to the screen and we all tried our best to avoid the area and not disturb them.

Both the male and female stayed close by and spent a lot of time flitting around the yard, allowing us to get some excellent pictures of them without benefit of a telephoto lens.

The male and female perched on the fence not far from where their nest is.
Capturing a picture in flight this close, with my regular lens, proved quite a challenge.
Now we know how the stains got on Buddha's face!

Two days ago, we heard peeping coming from the patio and saw a tiny beek poke up over the edge of the nest. When the mother bird flew off to feed, we finally stood on a nearby chair to try to get a photograph, not an easy task as the nest was close to the rafters supporting the deck.

With the lens aimed down on the nest, it took many tries but I was finally able to get a great shot of the new babes.

Robins usually lay four eggs in a clutch. I don't know if there are two other eggs beneath these chicks, or if she only laid two, but we can only see two tiny babes.

Again today, perched on the kitchen ladder, we were able to get some images of the babes after the mother bird flew off for a bit.

Today they were sleeping when we photo'd them, but shortly after that (after the camera was put away, of course), we saw the little beaks once again peak up over the side of the nest as they chirped and called for her.

Unfortunately, I will be traveling this week and can only hope that they are still there when I return. I so want to see their mother lead them from the nest!

Added Sunday evening:  Earlier this evening, the mother flew off to get some food and we saw the little ones looking for her to feed them. We were able to get this picture while she was out and about getting food.

Looking for their mom to feed them.


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