Saturday, May 31, 2008

May 30, 2008 - Fledglings out on their own!

I saw Ricky in our neighbors yard; he was on the ground chirping and looking up into a tree. Sure enough, I looked up and saw two fledglings hopping around on a branch in the tree. One of them got spooked and hopped up to the top of the tree, branch by branch. The other stayed completely still right where it was.

It was so cool to see the babies out and about. It was good to know they made it through their first night away from the nest. I was hoping to catch one fly but they were too afraid. From what I can tell, they just sit on a branch all day and the parents feed them. From time to time, I will see Ricky try to coax them out of a tree, they only have two weeks to learn how to fly, forage, find water and protect themselves.

Calling Ricky for more food

I thought that feeding nestlings was hard. The parents are now working double-time trying to feed the babies. Two of them seem to be sticking together so Ricky is feeding both of them. Lucy and the littlest fledgling are no where to be seen. Hopefully they are together somewhere.

VIDEO: Ricky feeding a fledgling in a tree

Friday, May 30, 2008

May 29, 2008 - Empty nests

I knew there would be some Fledglings leaving the nest today but I didn't know all of them would! I really wanted to see at least one of the babies leave the nest and learn to fly. Oh well! The babies spent the morning preening and getting ready to leave the nest. I was gone for part of the day and when I came back, just the littlest bird was there:

I watched the baby frantically trying to pull all her baby feathers out; she wanted to go too! She is so little I thought for sure she would wait a day or two before leaving the nest. Plus, I had seen Lucy feed her many times through the day; with all the food for herself, you'd think she would want to stay as long as possible! I thought I had one more chance to see a baby leave the nest. Unfortunately when I came back from dinner, she was gone too. Some birthday present for me. :(

I have to say, Lucy's nest really stood up to the job. Better than Mama's at least. I guess we will never know what happened to that fourth hatchling. There is no evidence of it in the nest.

It's sad to see all of the babies and parents go. Jonnie and I had so much fun the past month checking on "our Robin's" through out the day. It's rough out there and we live in an area with lots of predators and dangers, I just hope all of these Robin's can make it! I will keep my eye out for the babies and hopefully I will be able to spot them in our neighborhood somewhere.

May 28, 2008 - These Robins are ready to fly!

Two of the birds (the older and bigger two) have learned to perch today and they have been doing a lot of it. The biggest nestling keeps looking over the side of the nest to see what is down there. He also keeps pecking at the leaves around him, trying to figure out what they are. There seems to be some peer pressure going on in the nest now. As soon as one preens and flaps and stands up, another one will give it a try. They are always checking out what the other ones are doing.

Do it! Do it!

Thinking about it...

Nah, you go first.

Today I found a Robin in the road in front of our house. I know it's not Lucy, Ricky or Robbie or Roxy, but I can't be sure that it isn't Mama or Daddy. Those two (especially Mama) were always flying across the street and have had many close calls with cars. I am going to pretend that it isn't one of them. Unfortunately, the damage is too great to see if it is either one of "my" Robin's. It's too sad to think about knowing that Mama has new eggs in a nest somewhere... Plus, I got a little attached to these birds after watching them, they each have their own personalities. Either way, it's sad because if it isn't one of mine, it is some other baby Robin's parent, poor things.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

May 27, 2008 - Adorable, amazing and gross

Here is a video of the birds preening, learning to stand and stretch/flap their wings. It's amazing how fast they grow and how strong they are at less than two weeks old! Luckily, while they were exercizing and cleaning themselves, Lucy showed up for a feeding. Not so lucky, I got a visual of what happens after they digest the food.

(This video is a little longer than the rest, you have to let it load and buffer for a minute before it plays)

May 26, 2008 - Close-ups


Middle child


May 25, 2008 - It ain't easy being teeny

Just like with Mama's nest, the little one always gets ignored. Although, Lucy's littlest seems to hold his own much better than Roxy did. He does get squished a lot and has always had to sleep on the top (and coldest) part of the nest, but he still does alright. He sits and sleeps with his mouth open so he is ready to get food the second Mom or Dad show up, pretty savvy! For every one feeding his siblings get two but it seems to be enough for him.

Getting squished and hoping for lunch

Trying to hide from me and still hoping for lunch

(those wispy white feathers are the ones they pull out when they preen)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

May 24, 2008 - Three Robins in a row

The babies are starting to flap their wings, stand up and preen. The bird on the right is the baby, the other two were born on the same day. Sometimes the older ones will be laying on top of the baby and the poor thing gets squished. They are really starting to run out of room and now that they are spreading their wings they are always crashing into and stepping on each other.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

May 23, 2008 - 2 babies that didn't make it

I can pretty much confirm now that Lucy's fourth hatchling didn't make it. I don't know what happened to it, but I do know that I haven't seen it since the day it was born. There is hardly any room left in the nest for the three of them, I can't imagine what it would have been like with four. It is business as usual with Lucy and Ricky; constantly foraging and feeding. The babies literally grow overnight, it is amazing.

I haven't seen much of Big Mama and Big Daddy. I did see them both foraging together for a brief time but that was it; no sign of Robbie and Roxy. I'm always looking for them though, I hope I get to see them at some point. Big Daddy still guards the nest, he ran another Robin out of his territory just like he used to when the babies were nesting. It's hard to believe that Mama is most likely laying eggs in another nest by now. I checked the empty nest today and the unhatched egg is still there. Looks like it got pushed into the very bottom of the nest.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

May 22, 2008 - Bye, Bye Birdies!!

This morning I saw Robbie sitting on the edge of the nest, I had a feeling he would be ready to fly today. I left to drop Jonnie off at school and by the time I got home, both were gone! There has been no sign of them since. Someone didn't let Daddy in on it though; at least I think it is Big Daddy. The parents look so much alike, it's hard to tell them apart by looks alone. I usually would tell them apart by their behavior. Now that the babies are gone, I can't tell who is who. This morning after the babies left, I heard Big Daddy screeching and searching for his family. It was pretty heartbreaking to see. Usually, when Robin fledglings leave the nest, they spend two weeks with their Dad as he shows them the ropes. It doesn't appear to be the case here. Big Daddy has spent all day gathering food for babies that aren't there. This morning he had a mouthful of worms and was squawking for his kids. :( I haven't seen Mama at all today so I am assuming the babies are with her. I just hope Daddy figures out where they are!

VIDEO: Poor Big Daddy looking for his family.

This afternoon he has been patrolling his territory. (this is why I think it is Daddy and not Mama since she doesn't usually patrol) Earlier, Daddy got into a big scuffle with a male Baltimore Oriole! At one point, the Oriole even went INTO the empty nest! Daddy of course would have none of that so he went after him. Daddy, being not as aggressive as Mama, didn't do a great job and seemed intimidated. Eventually the Oriole got the point and left.

I am hoping that the babies will come back to the nest at night. I put a bird bath near their nest because I know one important lesson is to teach the kids to get water. Hopefully this will bring them back at least long enough so I can see them one more time and make sure they can fly. Daddy's main territory has always been in my neighbors yard so I am sure that if they are around, they are over there. I just wish I could see them in action!


May 21, 2008 - Getting ready to fly

Robbie and Roxy are ready to go. They spend most of their time looking out of the nest, looking to the ground, etc. It is like they are trying to figure out how to get down and out of there! They don't shy away as much when they see me. They are getting bigger and bolder every day.

Roxy (L) Robbie (R)
14 days old

Roxy (L) Robbie (R)

There was a huge thunder and lightning storm late afternoon. Lucy and Ricky were off foraging and must have gotten stuck in a tree somewhere. The babies were left alone for most of it. The holly branches did offer some protection from the rain, but big droplets would fall on them from time to time. Eventually Lucy made her way back to the nest and covered up the little ones. Big Mama was right there when the storm started. I don't think Mama and Daddy go very far from their nest; they always seem available whenever the babies need them. Robbie and Roxy are so big now Mama had to sit on the edge of the nest to shield them from the storm.

I have only seen 3 of Lucy's babies the past few days. I am thinking something may have happened to one of them. They all sleep with their heads up so when Lucy or Ricky come to feed, all they have to do is open their mouths.

Their eyes are starting to open!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

May 20, 2008 - Feedings and fights

It's been pretty quiet for Lucy's clan today. I still can't get over the amount of time she spends away from her nest. Even when it rains or the wind is gusting, she is nowhere to be found; Ricky isn't either. I have seen him on the nest guarding from time to time but not much. These two are much less hands on parents than Big Mama and Big Daddy are. On the other hand, they do have two more mouths to feed than Mama and Daddy do.


Today Mama and Daddy had enough of the Blue Jay's. They got into a huge fight with one early this morning. It was so intense that it woke me up! I know that Mama will put up a good fight but until this morning, I had yet to see Big Daddy get his claws dirty. Today, both parents were full on brawling with this Blue Jay. They were fighting on the ground and in the air, all three of them were screaming and squawking at each other. Eventually, the pair chased the Jay into a neighbors yard. They must have been trying to hold their territory because neither of them came back for a good fifteen minutes. I was glad to see them both again, I always worry that something is going to happen to one of the parents. It seems like other birds have noticed Mama's nest. They fly by quite low, like they are checking things out. This happens several times a day now. I assume the Blue Jay got caught doing this and the fight ensued. Hopefully the Blue Jay learned his lesson!

Daddy guarding his nest from a near by branch

May 19, 2008 - Spreading their wings

Robbie and Roxy are learning to stretch and spread out their wings. They are much more active now. They will sit up and look around while waiting for their next meal. They don't make as much noise as I thought they would; I almost never hear them chirp. They are fully aware of what is going on around them now. They will look at me through the window and duck when they sense danger.

Figuring out their wings

12 days old

The four babies seem to be doing well. The amount of work it takes to feed four babies is amazing. The parents pretty much spend their time feeding the kids from dawn to dusk. The babies don't get nearly as much incubating time as Mama's kid's did. It has been rainy and cold too; I would have thought they would need their Mom to incubate them more than food but thats not what Lucy has been doing. The babies also seem to take turns with who gets to go on the bottom of the pile, which, I imagine is the prime spot in this cold weather. I always feel bad when the little one gets stuck on top and is shivering.

Monday, May 19, 2008

May 18, 2008 - All four eggs have hatched!

Unlike Mama, all of Lucy's eggs hatched successfully. The newest baby is the one on the top, right.

Happy Birthday!

Robbie and Roxy are near impossible to photograph. They blend in so well with the nest that my camera just can't seem to focus on them clearly. They also duck down very low when they sense that I am near, which makes it even harder. Their eyes are fully open now, they have looked at me a few times. They have tons of feathers now! It's hard to believe that they will probably be on their own by Memorial day.

The best picture I have gotten in days:
11 days old

May 17, 2008 - Lucy feeding the babies

Friday, May 16, 2008

May 16, 2008 - Now a Mom of three

Another new addition to Lucy's family!

Happy Birthday!

Lucy's a busy Mom feeding three babies. I did see Ricky this morning trying to help but Lucy still does the bulk of the work. I've been able to see her feed them quite a few times now but it hasn't been light enough for pictures. I still haven't figured out how they decide who gets fed first. It seems like both mothers definitely have their favorites.

I haven't been able to take any decent pictures of Robbie or Roxy the past few days. They have lots of feathers now and the colors of the feathers blend in perfectly with the nest. This camouflage is good because they spend 75% of their time alone in the nest now. Mama did spend more time with her kids today because it was rainy and she had to cover them up. Besides today, she has pretty much been MIA. She spends the bulk of her time across the street in our neighbor's yard. She does come back to feed her babe's but basically, she is gone. I'm guessing she is already working on her new nest. Robin's don't typically reuse nests which is a real bummer for me. I would love to see them through the summer but I doubt that will happen. However, I will leave their nests there in case they change their minds!

I do worry about little Roxy. I check every morning to make sure she is still o.k. She is quite a bit smaller than her brother and the parents absolutely favor Robbie over Roxy; he gets the food the majority of the time. Today I didn't see her lift her head for food, which is a first. But I was also gone most of the day so hopefully she is just full.

I noticed a new job that Big Daddy is responsible for: cleaning out the nest. I would see him pecking around the bottom of the nest sometimes. At times he would actually peck his kids! I had no idea what he was doing until I saw him eating whatever was at the bottom of the nest. Then I read that baby Robin's poo immediately after they eat; so I put two and two together. Not a job I would want! :)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

May 15, 2008 - Lucy's a Mom!!!!

TWO babies were born this morning. Again, I missed the hatching which is a bummer, I hope to catch at least one being born. Lucy is much less wary of me so she fed her babies while I was watching! Didn't get a clear picture of it but it was cool to see. These two are really cute! They are constantly moving around and lifting their mouths up for food. They both seem about the same size but one is much stronger than the other. Many times the stronger bird will sit on the other ones head! The poor thing struggles to get out for what seems like forever. Eventually, he/she finds it's way up to get some air!

Happy Birthday!!

Lucy feeding her new babies.

The closest thing I may get to see in the hatching process is this hole in one of the eggs. It looks like that baby is trying to stick her wing in the egg!


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

May 14, 2008 - From Hatchling to Nestling

Apparently, the babies are big enough that they no longer need incubating during the day. Which means they aren't considered Hatchlings anymore! Mama spends most of her time looking for food to feed her babies and herself, she hasn't needed to sit on the babies all day. I do know that the mothers will continue to incubate during the nighttime though. Since Mama is spending most of the day away from the nest, Big Daddy has had to step it up; he guards the nest and feeds the babies all day long. Today I tried to take pictures of the nest from the outside. It was wonderful to see the babies so close-up. Daddy was near-by just watching. But within a minute or two, Mama came screeching from a few yards over. It sounded more like she was yelling at him to watch the kids better than at me!

The babies are able to open their eyes now! I saw one trying to look at me but it wasn't able to open it's eyes all the way. They are so ugly that they are cute! They are always huddled up next to each other trying to keep warm. They are probably about double the size they were on the day they were born.

Keeping each other warm.

Robbie (left) - Roxy (right)

Big Daddy guarding the nest.

The Blue Jay's are becoming more and more of a problem for this Robin family. They fly all over Daddy's territory and you can tell they are looking for trouble. I don't know if Big Daddy could take the Jay's but I know Mama could. Now that she isn't tied to the nest like she was, I am always seeing her in other Robin's territories looking for food and getting into scuffles.

Looking for trouble.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

video problems

I've had some issues with posting videos but I worked it out. Be sure to check out the video of the babies on the first day they hatched. Too cute!!

May 13, 2008 - The dangerous life of a Robin

Robbie and Roxy (the babies have names!) are getting BIG and STRONG; noticeably so even from yesterday! When they reach their mouths up for food they are now taller than the sides of the nest. They are also much, much stronger and move around more, they are starting to make noise now too. I even saw Robbie (the bigger one) flapping his featherless wings around. They have lost those big, blue, bulgy eyes and look much more bird-like now. It is obvious that Roxy is the smaller, weaker one. Because of that, she often goes without getting food. Robbie can lift his head higher and for a longer period of time and the parents stuff food in the first mouth they see.

VIDEO: Big Daddy feeding Roxy

NOTE: The sounds in the background are not the birds, it's the sound of Jonnie playing with his cars. :)

How cute is this little face?!

Big Daddy has been around and contributing MUCH more than he has in the past. He feeds them very frequently now and stands guard over the nest rather than from a nearby tree. Mama has to go farther out of her territory to get food. This makes life a lot harder for the both of them. Daddy has to keep a close eye on the nest and Mama has to fight off other defensive Mama's. She also looks for food in a yard that belongs to this:

A Robin family also lives in the yard with the cat and the Robin chased Mama off and she nearly got hit by a car! The Blue Jay's are getting much more aggressive which is freaking the new parents out. Mama got caught in a sticky situation with two Blue Jay's and had to stand completely still on a branch so they wouldn't notice her. She is much more wary of entering the nest. She knows that predators will follow her. Big Daddy on the other hand seems a bit oblivious to this. Yet, when he sees my face or camera nearby he flies away. The bigger the babies get, the more fiercely the parents defend them. Today, I saw Big Mama dive bomb a Squirrel; she got him right on the head which was pretty funny.

One scared Mama!

This is when the Blue Jay's were being aggressive

Monday, May 12, 2008

May 12, 2008 - What a difference a day makes!

It's COLD and WINDY out today; so different from the sunny warm day we had yesterday. Lucy is not having fun today. She hasn't been able to take off and find food like she is used to. I haven't seen her leave the nest at all today. She is all puffed up trying to keep her eggs and herself warm. I even caught her sleeping this morning:

I caught a quick glimpse of the babies today. Mama was screeching for Big Daddy so I made it really quick; I wasn't able to confirm that there is a third baby. The babies look SO different now! I am thinking that the black coloring is either bone or cartilage under the skin. It looks like the line on their eyelids has opened a bit more, I bet they will open their eyes soon! I could also see the beginnings of their wing feathers. Their down looks longer and fluffier but they are still quite naked.


ETA: Just saw the third egg in the nest. I have a feeling it's just not going to hatch. It just keeps moving around the nest. At this point, it would probably be best if it didn't hatch.

May 11, 2008 - Happy Mother's Day!

I think the third egg hatched today. Big Mama has been super protective and I haven't been able to get a good look inside of the nest to be sure. The two bigger birds - keep sending in name suggestions! :) - are much stronger now! They have a light covering of white feathers all over their bodies. They can also hold their heads up for minutes at a time. It also seems like they are not wasting their energy on lifting their heads until they know that Mama is nearby. They rest until she is a foot or two away from the holly tree; then they opening wide. Still no noise from them yet.

Protective Mama not letting me peek at her kids.

When Mama senses danger, all of the feathers on her head stick up.

Yesterday was warm, so Lucy was able to spend a lot of time away from her nest. I hope she took advantage of this warm weather since tomorrow is going to be 25 degrees cooler!

This is the tree that Lucy chose to build a nest.

This is the amazing view we get from inside the house.