As you know, when the kids finally leave home and are out on their own, their parents are often referred to as “empty nesters” and an empty nest is exactly what I found at the home where I’ve been monitoring the baby robins I discovered last Sunday.
You’ll recall, when I shared their photo a few days ago, how they crowded one another in the nest; they were even perching on its rim when I passed by.
I figured it was not long before they fledged their twiggy digs and entered into the big wide world. Their parents, now “empty nesters”, soon will begin working on brood #2 by securing a safe place to build another nest, lay more eggs and new life will begin again. But, the parents of brood #1 won’t be using the same nest, because when I passed by this morning, the homeowner had already taken it down.
I don’t think Mama and Papa robin just up and abandoned their brood, but neither of them were around when I passed by this house on my way to the Park yesterday. I took the above picture of the empty nest, then craned my neck to see if any chicks still remained, but saw none.
I did see one fledgling on the driveway near the gate.
He (or she) seemed a little timid, and, after sitting on the ground a minute or so, he suddenly took flight, so I went on my merry way to the Park, happy to see one of my fledgling feathered friends and glad no cats were lurking about.
On the way home, it was a different story.
One of the fledglings, so easily identifiable by their short wings, stubby tail and spotted breast, flew down from a nearby tree and landed on the top of the chain-link fence, about five feet from me. Clearly, he was not afraid, so did Mama not tell her chicks to be leery of hulking humans?
As my feathered friend gripped the top bar of the fence, he glanced my way, looked me straight in the eye and peeped. He was a little unsteady and nearly lost his footing on the wide metal bar a few times, since his stubby little tail was not providing much balance. I watched him as he seemed to gain confidence on this perch, and soon he was cheeping and peeping at me and my heart kind of melted.
I had already put the camera away back at the Park and didn’t want to reach into the case and startle him, lest he fly away, so I talked to him softly a little bit. He answered with a few more peeps. I noticed that his wings really need to fill in, so I don’t think that he and his siblings will be going on any long flying trips this holiday weekend.
I finally reached for the camera and took a few pictures, and told him the backdrop of the tree trunk really showed off his new feathers. I especially liked that little patch of feathery fuzz on the top of his head.
He reminded me a little of my canaries … every Summer when they’d molt, over the course of about two months, they’d replenish all their feathers. But they didn’t all fall out all at once. First came the long wing feathers, then the two tail feathers would be next. The poor birds would go several weeks before the wings became full and the bob tail would grow into a new, regular-sized tail. Their next molting stage involved the downy chest feathers and the pin feathers around the face. During this stage, sometimes I’d walk by and feathers would be swirling around the cage.
I interacted with my feathered friend a little more, and he surprised me by hopping up onto the actual fence where he seemed to hang on for dear life, but looked me straight in the eye again. Was he posing just for me? I’d like to think so – what do you think?
I took my photos and tucked away the camera, then, as if on cue, he decided he had posed long enough and took off back to the tree. Did he spy his Mama in the tree waiting for him with fresh grubs or a juicy worm, or does he have to fend for himself now?
This morning as I rounded the bend and saw the house, I looked for my little feathered friend, and/or his siblings, but they were nowhere to be found, and, as I mentioned above, the nest has been removed.
I am still on baby robin patrol, because at the Park, the hatch has taken place and that mother robin is attending to her brood. From my vantage point on the ground, though I cannot see inside the nest, I am tall enough to see those little chicks with their open mouths and I’ve watched her feeding her brood.
It seemed like I perfectly timed my arrival at both nests and I feel lucky to have experienced the joy of new life, which is really what Spring is all about.
Our Spring suddenly has a very Summer-like feel to it … we topped out at 82 degrees today and tomorrow our temps will climb to near 90 degrees, then a week-long heat wave will begin. The heat and humidity will touch off a torrential rain storm Saturday and off-and-on rain throughout the long holiday weekend. I will have to plan my walking around these weather events.
Today I got five miles walked … I had set a mini-goal for myself of 400 miles by the end of May, but I have a long way to go to reach that milestone, since I’ve only walked 323 miles so far in 2018 due to all the rain.