Tuesday, May 26, 2009

An American Robin Nestling and His Pop

I refer to the male Robin as Pop because he seemed to be the most vigilant about the youngster. The female was nearby also, but perhaps her efforts were focused on young still in the nest. Pop was busy gathering food for this nestling and when I saw him coming with this mouthful of earthworm, I thought, wow! And decided to watch for a while. Not, 'just a robin', he was a parent with a mission and none too happy about my presence.In the series of images below, you can see how he communicated this in several ways, raising his crown feathers, flicking his tail and issuing wing flicks along with sharp warning chirps. Above he spreads his tail feathers and below, he's in the midst of wing flicking.
I was at ground level with him at this moment, so I moved to a different position to reduce stress. I also wanted him to feed that baby. So I retreated up an embankment. With more distance and a tree between us, my new position caused no concern and the meal he brought was quietly delivered in small pieces.
One final, lingering look before departure.
The male awoke the nestling with greeting chirps as he approached, but not a sound was made by either the parent or the nestling during feeding. In fact, the whole time I observed the nestling, he never made a sound. He watched the world around him and listened. Secretive silence, camouflage and stillness are the only protections for this nestling, too soon out of the nest. Somehow, he seems to know that.After his meal, the nestling had more energy. A blue jay had been overhead earlier, tapping something against a limb as if attempting to break it. I wondered if he had a snail. I both feared the nestling would attract attention by moving and wished for a better hiding place for him. And my wish happened. When he took a notion, he toddled and stumbled with determination to a new location with Pop delivering encouraging chirps the whole way.
In the images above you can clearly see his blood feathers with blue sheaths supplying the blood to newly developing wing feathers. I don't know how long it takes these feathers to mature, but hopefully in only a few days. These are the flight feathers he needs to fledge.
The nestling headed into a dense bamboo stand, definitely a better spot than under the hemlock where the jays hang out periodically.
I decided to end my observations here. But just outside my window, I'm continuing to send this nestling wishes for a safe and speedy fledging.


  1. Great observations Vickie! I am biting my nails..crossing my fingers ..hoping the little fellow will be ok!

  2. great story, great pix! we'll hope for the best. marge

  3. I love his little mad scientist hairdo!

  4. well hopefully he was just a day or so from fledging!! Good Pop Robin for taking care of him!!

  5. Excellent post Vickie and great captures of the entire ordeal. Your drawing, as always, expresses the little one's beauty. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful experience.

  6. Thanks Vickie, what a lovely and informative post.

  7. What a cutie that little Robin is! I just love your artwork and photos. Great job!


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