A Tale of Two Nests

As we transition from Spring to Summer, and our little baby Robins just fledged, I want to share with you the story of our latest Robin adventure.

Three years ago, within days of moving into our new house, a momma Robin made a nest on the Pergola of the deck. We named her Dodi after my deceased mom, as they seemed to have similar personalities. Thus began the joy of watching mom, dad and babies. Mom had two successful groups of babies that year, and it was touching and educational to watch life happening in front of us. Dad was quite the helper, bringing food and standing guard— and this particular dad only had use of one leg. Still a fantastic helper even with his handicap. In following years seemingly strange behavior would occur—including one time a Robin (I can only presume it was Dodi or one of Dodi’s kin) — making 8 different nests on the pergola!

This year it was with bated breath that Dodi (or a kin) returned. She spent weeks making a nest, a strong powerful nest full of twigs, dirt, ribbon and string– it was a nest to make any Robin proud. I was excited as she began to sit, I imagined laying her eggs— but then — one day she built another nest right next to the good one— and this nest was barely a nest—only scant twigs in a circle with no real sturdy structure. Then she began to sit in that nest too! And so it would go— she would sit in one nest for a few hours and then sit in the other nest. We got a long-armed mirror so we could see what was going on in the nests and to our shock, there were two blue eggs in each of the nests! It seemed she was trying to incubate both sets of eggs!

After much deliberation and talking with bird specialists we decided to move the two eggs from the weak nest to the strong nest. Wowzers you have never seen such a fierce Robin! As my partner moved the first egg, a Robin (obviously the dad who was standing guard while the mom was away) – Well this fierce protector flew right at our faces, perched and just stared with a look which screamed, “Get away from my soon to be babies.” My partner was terrified, so we got inside as quick as possible after moving the eggs.

Now what was going to happen and would our plan work?

Immediately Dodi came back and first sat in the weak nest! I went outside pointed a finger and said, “No that’s not the right nest, go sit in the other one!” It was completely amazing and awe inspiring, she   flew out of the weak nest and sat in the good nest….. where she remained for the rest of this adventure.

So the question was… After a week of sitting on two different nests would all the eggs hatch?

With my obsessive tendencies and fierce admiration for non-human animals, I watched and watched and watched, standing in the kitchen with my binoculars wondering if our plan would work. Finally, the first egg hatched. Then the second. I know this because in my obsession when mom was away from nest I would occasionally sneak out and take a quick peek with the long-armed mirror. For a week it was only two babies— and mom was working hard, cleaning nest, getting food for babies and sitting, constantly sitting…. Then miraculously after a week the 3rd egg hatched!

And this little baby began to grow, yet still when I sneaked a peek inside, there was always one blue egg. Baby Robins look like little skin furballs with enormous beaks craving nourishment. I couldn’t really count them, I just knew when they hatched because the little precious blue egg was gone. For days I figured that three out of the four hatched, which was pretty good since no eggs might have hatched if she continued trying to incubate two sets of eggs. I mean its not like once she realized her mistake she could move the eggs herself, she has no arms.

I was content knowing three hatched and wondering how she would remove the fourth, but then my curiosity got the best of me, and I peeked one more time and I saw no little blue gem of an egg.

Could it be that the fourth egg hatched? I couldn’t tell but I knew I would find out in the coming days as the babies grew.

And grew they did— With pride I am happy to announce that all four hatched! A few weeks later and in one instant the two bigger birds jumped and were out of the nest. Five days later the second two jumped and it was sight to behold.

It has been an epic adventure with the Robins. I haven’t even told you about the disagreements with my partner about putting a roof over so the nest wouldn’t get wet. Yes, he won, and the nest now has a cover, which is a good thing too because it stormed pretty severe when the eggs were in the nest.

Birds, just like all animals, are amazing. Birds jump from the nest when they still cannot fly. That’s got to take an enormous amount of courage. Such bravery they embody as they leave the warm nest where all their needs are met. They jump not knowing what lies ahead. It’s a great metaphor for our own lives. We could learn a lot from Robins. Love. Dedication. Family. Courage. Amazing singing.

 

I was lucky that I got to see the second two Robins jump. I watched them throughout the day after they jumped– they hopped in the yard and momma continued to care for them. I so wish them luck. I hope they are safe. I hope they make it. I hope they live long lives of flight and fun, and one day return to my deck to make babies of their own.

Paying attention to nature and wildlife offers such love, beauty and lessons; and it’s all around us at all times and doesn’t cost anything. I am grateful that momma Robin chose our home to make her babies. I am grateful she finally sat on the right nest. I am grateful that she and her partner were so diligent at taking care of the babies that every single one of them fledged successfully. I am grateful that I love all animals and always want to do right by them.

As we celebrate the start of Summer, I genuinely hope you pay attention to the magic that’s all around you. The magic in the plants and flowers shooting up, and the enchantment in the plethora of life living around you. May this magic remind you of your connection to the natural world, and may you hear the Robin song awakening in you joy and renewal this Summer.