|The Robins - Week 2|
Nest building started on Thursday 15 June and was more or less completed the next day. Saturday saw very little activity at the nest. The first egg was laid at around 8.20am on Sunday morning and each subsequent morning saw another until the fourth egg was laid on Wednesday 21 June. From Friday, the male made a visit early each morning, bringing food for the female.
Last night, when I though she had settled down for the night mum suddenly left the box at about 10pm. She returned to the nest at 5.10am this morning and immediately snuggled down in the nest cup. She stayed there for the next hour, and on several occasions tucked her head under her wing. After a quick trip out she settled again, although more alert now. She left the nest another three times before 9am. This picture of her returning from the last of those trips confirms that no further eggs have been laid this morning.
At 9.30am she left the nest and to my surprise the sight below appeared on my tv screen. My video recorder had stopped running about 10 minutes before so I missed the moment, having got too used to earlier hatching times!
As soon as I saw the extra egg, I went out to my mealworm feeding spot and set up the kitchen scales again. Mum turned up almost straight away and had, not surprisingly, lost weight. She weighs 22-23 grams this morning. Does this mean that a robin's egg weighs about 3 grams? Dad turned up and was unchanged (and so was the blackbird!)
After the female returned to the nest the male visited her twice with food in the next half hour.
A lesson to be learnt when setting up a bird box for photography.-NEVER use ordinary mirror glass. Having set up the arrangements for the robin in a rush I will now have to put up with a major problem when I take colour photographs of the developing chicks. The picture below illustrates the problem-
Click for large pic (34KB)
The mirror will be replaced before next year's nesting season!
Friday 23 June. An overcast, cool day with a few damp spells.
The female is now spending the night in the nest. She left the nest at about 4.30am and returned from that first trip at 4.50am. She spent the next hour and a half resting until she left again at 6.35am.for a five minute excursion before resting again until 7.30am. Another short trip was followed by another incubation period. It looks as though the egg laying phase is now well and truely over.
During these times she kept herself very low in the nest, sometimes her eyes closed or even with her head buried for short periods. Every so often her head would be raised to take a better look outside. She has every reason to be cautious about being seem from outside. During the morning my attention was drawn to the bottom of the garden by the alarm calls of the male blackbird. This usually means a cat but this time it was a sparrowhawk, sitting on the fence just 6 feet from the nest box. It flew off as I arrived and there were a few small, downy feathers on the fence! At least the blackbird family seems to be intact and both robins are accounted for.
The robins are settling into a pattern of feeding behaviour now. The female will leave the nest and, if mealworms are available will come to the mealworm dish to feed. She will eat a few at the dish if not disturbed. The male, being much more cautious, will approach and usually snatches a mealworm from the dish and moves away to eat it, or more often he takes it to the female and offers it to her.At one session he actually chased her from the dish, giving a really agressive display, only to go after her immediately afterwards, mealworm in mouth.
The female has started giving a short 'singing' call before she leaves the nest. I have not yet been able to hear if it a response to the male or if she is making the first call.
Saturday 24 June. another cool, cloudy day (max 16C).
A quiet day for the robins with the female spending nearly all her time on the eggs. She leaves the nest far less than the blue tit mum did. She seems to have lost a little more weight and is now nearer 21grams and yet she still looks a lot larger than the male. Does she grow a thicker coat of feathers to help with incubation?
This is an image of her at 6pm
As she sits like this she is breathing at about 89 breaths per minute.
I am somewhat puzzled by the male robin. He hardly ever takes food to the female in the nest. When she leaves the nest for food he is always nearby and often holds a mealworm in his beak for ages. Even if she perches somewhere and waits he does not usually go to her, and on one occasion when she flew from the nest to feed he flew to the nest, mealworm in beak!
Sunday 25 June. A generally dull but fine day. I have not paid much attention to the robins today. Everything is fine with the pair, with the female only leaving the box infrequently to feed.
They are having to compete with the blackbirds for food at the moment. Two of the blackbird youngsters actually came out onto the grass this afternoon, chasing after mum and dad and pestering them to be fed.
At just after 9.15pm the male has been to the nest with food for the female and has just spent a couple of minutes singing nearby. He has now moved away from the box and is singing in my neighbour's apple tree.
Monday 26 June - A brighter day with sunny intervals. Here are images of mum returning after a feed about 11am this morning and then settled down to continue incubation. It has been a very quiet day for her so far.
I have managed to aquire a piece of front silvered mirror and I installed it while she was away from the nest. She has noticed the difference but does not seem worried by the change. These TV images were obtained via it. That should greatly improve my chances of getting some usable nest pictures in the weeks to come.
Day before yesterday I wondered what the male robin was up to. Today again he seemed to take mealworms away while the female was feeding. After watching for some time I am sure that he is feeding affspring from a previous brood. I watched as he took some mealworms up into my neighbour's tree. He spent a short time there, appearing to adjust how they were arranged in his beak before flying back into the 'ivy tree' where my blackbird family had nested. I could hear the sound of immature chirping from there before he reappeared for more worms. He also flew, mealworms in beak, to some conifers in a garden that backs onto my leylandii trees.
While watching the male robin I saw a wren going repeatedly into the same 'ivy tree' carrying food(?) in its beak. I have suspected for a couple of weeks that wrens are nesting there but I have not been able to confirm this.
The young blackbirds have been active in the garden again today. They seemed able to pick up food for themselves but clearly prefered to be fed by their parents.
Tuesday 27 June - A bright day with periods of sunshine (max 22C).
Very little to report about today. It has been business as usual for the robins, upset briefly when a cat turned up and sat itself only feet from the nest. The female left as soon as it spotted the danger, but returned quickly once the pest had left.
The blackbird fledglings are now spending more time foraging without the help of the parents and I did not see a single wren today. Just after 9pm we were treated to a low, slow flypast by a trio of herons.