A few weeks ago Baby Girl barged into my office, quite breathless with excitement. “There’s a robin’s nest!” she exclaimed.
I have to admit that I kind of brushed her off … until she told me where it was. We live in an area that has 40-year-old trees. The chirping of birds, including magpies (which I don’t really think of as birds but more as flying vermin), and squirrels is constant. It often starts at 4:00 AM in the summer, wakes me up, and makes me close the window to get just one more hour of blessed sleep. So, I wasn’t surprised to hear there was a nest nearby.
Baby Girl took me by the hand, just like she would have if she was only four, and pulled me outside. Just outside the front door, totally protected by the overhang on the front of the house, tucked in on the top of the front porch light was a nest.
Hearing the commotion, Hubby appeared at the door. He pulled out his cellphone, reached up without touching the nest, and took a picture of its contents – three little blue eggs. That created a dilemma. This nest was within a foot of the front door. Every time anyone would come up the sidewalk, momma bird would fly away. If daddy bird was standing guard while momma was off the nest, he’d fly away, too.
Daddy robins can’t brood on the eggs. They are not structurally built for it. They lack a ‘brood patch.’ Momma robins, also called hens, need to sit on the eggs for about 50 minutes out of every hour, and they need to gently turn the eggs periodically for about two weeks.
Because of where the nest is, it is safe from predators – neither squirrels nor magpies ever come right up to the front door so the eggs are safe – but momma and daddy don’t know that, and I didn’t like the idea of either of them being scared away for good, leaving the eggs to die. We decided to do what any gentle-minded human would do. We put tape over the light switch so we couldn’t turn it on – might generate too much heat for the eggs. We blocked off the front door to keep humans at least three feet away – and it stayed blocked off until the nest was abandoned. That was pretty much a full month of having everyone, guests included, use the back door. That’s all it took. Babies hatched, and two weeks later they left the nest as fledglings.
I’m pretty sure it’s not a good idea for robins to nest on hardware instead of in a tree, so we’ve removed the nest and will have to watch to prevent momma from rebuilding on the light fixture again in the future.
And there you have it! I’m now an old hen. LOL!