Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Rockin' Robin

I haven't posted for a while, because my computer's hard drive died. Fortunately, Photoshop had reminded me to backup all my pictures, and it took three discs to do it, but I was so glad I did! We tend to overlook the common, such as the American Robin, simply because so many of them are around. At least, I know I do. This summer, an ambitious Robin built her nest in our back porch light when the cover blew off. This spot is ideal as it is under the eaves and protected from bad weather for the most part. Of course, they let us know when we are spending too much time on the patio! We watched her build, then sit on the eggs, and finally hatch four of the ugliest babies you've ever seen. I think their beaks are adult size from the very start. All we saw were beaks in the beginning. Then in a very short time, their eyes opened, and they started holding their heads up better. I know now why young birds learn to fly so soon. As they get bigger eating all those yummy worms, there simply isn't enough room in the nest for four of them at one time! It's either fly or fall out because of the crowding! We also learned that baby Robins produce nice neat little fecal sacs when they are fed. As my mother always said, "In one end, out the other." The parents carry them away and the nest is kept clean. In two short weeks, the babies had grown enough to fledge and make their way in the world. Well, they still followed Mom and Dad around begging for handouts. I guess they were teenage Robins. I thought it would be a safe time to remove the nest and replace the lamp cover. However, before we could, that Robin was sitting on the nest again. She would fly up to the edge, cock her head and peer down into the nest before sitting down. You could almost hear her counting, "One, two, three" to herself, making sure no eggs had disappeared or appeared mysteriously. Now they have hatched and Mom and babies sit there panting in the afternoon sun. Why does she still sit on the nest with the babies when it is so warm? Closer inspection reveals that she is holding out her wings to protect them from the bright sun when they have few feathers to protect their skin. I have much more appreciation for the common Robin than I ever did before becoming so well acquainted with our pair.

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