Friday, June 10, 2011

Flying lessons

Last night was a very stormy night in Waukee. Bill and I were a little concerned about Robin Banks and Robin Scherbatsky. They had left the nest only a few hours before the storms began, and we knew that they were still trying to get their bearings and learn to function in the real world. We hoped that they would find a safe place to spend the night so that they wouldn't get pummeled by the storm. Apparently, we needn't have worried. It turns out that our young robins are quite resourceful, and they had plenty of shelter during the storms last night. And how do I know this, you ask? Because they spent the night in our garage.

As I was getting ready to leave for work this morning, I stepped out onto the driveway to see if I could catch a glimpse of our robin family. As I was scanning the neighborhood, I heard a chirping noise, and I realized that it was coming from behind me. I turned around and saw Robin Scherbatsky sitting on one of the shelves in our garage, looking like she owned the place. I ran upstairs to get Bill so that he could properly document the occasion. After taking a few close-up pictures of Ms. Scherbatsky, Bill tried (without much success) to shoo her out of the garage. Meanwhile, Robin Banks tried to sneak out of the garage without being noticed. However, his plan failed when he flew into Bill's leg. (Apparently our robins still need a little bit of work on their navigation skills.) Much chaos ensued.

After Mr. Banks exited the garage, we continued to encourage Ms. Sherbatsky to do the same. We finally got her to leave her perch, but instead of flying out the garage door, she flew in toward the house. She took a quick tour of the garage, bumping into several walls along the way. Eventually, she became stuck in a corner behind our cross country skis. It soon became obvious that she wasn't going to be able to free herself, so Bill put on his official robin gloves (luckily, he still had them handy from when he had to rescue Esther the other day), and he helped Ms. Scherbatsky find her way out of the garage.

Usually, the only time that our garage door is open is if we're pulling one of our cars into or out of the garage. So, we're not entirely sure when the kids managed to sneak into the garage. Apparently they're very stealthy little robins! At first, we thought that they might have hopped into the garage when I opened the door to leave for work this morning. However, judging by the number of, um, souvenirs that they left behind, we're fairly certain that they spent the entire night in the garage.

Shortly after arriving back outside, Ms. Scherbatsky was greeted by Mr. and Mrs. Robin, who were eager to give her a flying lesson. She's actually pretty good at lifting herself off of the ground. She managed to fly into one of our bushes, then across the street, and then into one of our neighbor's trees. However, she still hasn't quite mastered the art of perching in the branches of a tree. She attempted to perch in our neighbor's tree, but she wasn't able to gain a foothold, so she came tumbling to the ground. Luckily, she seemed unfazed by her fall. Kids are resilient that way. As Bill was leaving for work, he saw Mr. and Mrs. Robin feeding breakfast to Ms. Scherbatsky.

It was fun to watch Ms. Scherbatsky's flying lesson, and we're glad that the kids have decided to stay in the neighborhood. We're hoping that we'll be able to continue to track their progress as they perfect their flying skills. And we will make sure that we check the garage for squatters before closing the garage door at night.
Garage Queen

Robin Banks after his hasty exit (above)
What are you doing in my garage?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

In loving memory

It's been a sad day here at the Robin Diaries. We had an exciting afternoon, as Robin Banks and Robin Scherbatsky graduated from the nest and ventured out into the world. However, after Robin and Robin left the nest, it soon became apparent that Esther was not in good health. She was lying on her side in the nest, and she wasn't moving much. Mr. and Mrs. Robin stopped by the nest and tried to feed her a few times, but she was too weak to eat. Esther appears to be resting peacefully now, but it doesn't look like she's going to make it. Needless to say, this came as quite a shock. I guess it's a reminder that things in nature don't always work out exactly the way we would like.

Although Esther's life ended much too soon, we're very grateful for the time that we got to spend with her. No parent is ever supposed to admit to having a favorite child, but we always had a soft spot in our hearts for Esther. She was the runt of the litter, the underdog whom we all cheered for. She was smaller than her siblings, but she wasn't afraid to stand up for herself and make sure that she got her fair share of worms. When I witnessed this behavior, I couldn't help but think, "You go, girl!" We're very sad to see Esther go, but we will always have fond memories of our sweet, young robin.

In loving Memory
Esther Robin
May 28, 2011 to June 9, 2011

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Failure to Launch

When Baskin Robin bravely ventured out of the nest yesterday, we assumed that his brothers and sisters would soon follow suit. So, we've been eagerly watching the Robincam, hoping to catch a glimpse of another young robin spreading its wings and venturing out into the world. But so far, no one is leaving. The kids spend a lot of time peering over the edge of the nest, contemplating the distance to the ground. They often puff up their chests and flap their wings as if they're going to leave, but they always change their minds at the last minute.

Like so many twenty-somethings these days, our young robins seem to prefer the comfort and convenience of remaining in the nest. I guess I can't really blame them, because they have a pretty cushy life here in the nest: they're living rent-free in a nice neighborhood, their bush provides plenty of shelter from inclement weather, and Mom and Dad have been providing all of the worms that a young robin could possibly want. Meanwhile, poor Mrs. Robin is running herself ragged, trying to teach Baskin how to fly and hunt for worms, while still tending to the other robins back in the nest. Although the kids seem quite content with this arrangement, we suspect that their days in the nest are limited.

For starters, the nest is getting incredibly crowded. The three remaining robins are looking very -- um, how can I say this nicely? -- well fed. Now, I'm trying to be diplomatic, because I don't want to make insensitive comments that will cause the kids to struggle with body image issues later in life. But seriously, these birds are huge. In fact, the nest has gotten so crowded that there isn't even room for all of the kids to sit on the floor of the nest simultaneously. Consequently, Robin Banks now spends most of his time sitting on top of his younger sister, Esther. Poor Esther! I think a little bit of exercise (in the form of flying and worm hunting) would be good for all of them.

In addition to the space issues, Mr. and Mrs. Robin appear to be rapidly losing patience with their free-loading children. Lately, we've noticed that Mom and Dad are feeding the kids much less frequently than before. Occasionally, one of the parents will return to the nest, give all of the kids a good nudge, and then fly away without giving the kids any worms. We suspect that this is their not-so-subtle way of letting the kids know that it's time for them to leave the nest and become productive members of society.

According to Wikipedia, all of the baby robins should leave the nest within two days of each other. Perhaps the mother robin kicks any remaining kids out of the nest after two days(?). As of 05:00 tomorrow morning, it will have been two days since Baskin Robin left the nest, so I guess we'll find out what happens then. Stay tuned...

Time Lapse from 6.8.2011

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Empty(ing) Nest

We had a bit of a surprise this morning, Carrie was leaving the house for an early morning run around 5am and found one of the baby robins hopping around the driveway. After a quick debate she decided to get me up so I could witness our first baby leave the nest, for which I was very thankful for. I got a short video clip of the baby robin, we think it is Baskin Robin, on the driveway getting fed by Mr. Robin and hopping around a bit.

Currently Robin Banks and Robin Scherbatsky are looking very close to leaving the nest, standing up on the edge of the nest and flapping their wings around. Esther looks very content to spend another day in the nest. We can hear Mrs. Robin encouraging them to hop down from the nest and she seems to be making a lot of trips to the nest and then leaving right away as if to say 'follow me'. It should be an exciting day, though it may be hard to get a lot of other work done.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Esther's (mis)adventure

Lest anyone panic after reading the title of the post, I want to start by assuring our readers that all of the robins are currently safe and sound in the nest. I can say this with confidence, because Bill and I have been checking on them quite frequently since this afternoon's "incident." (What can I say? We're concerned parents, and we worry about our babies.)

So, about the "incident"... Around 4:00 this afternoon, Bill ventured out to the nest to take a few pictures of our ridiculously cute baby robins. After peeking into the nest and confirming that the kids were doing OK, Bill turned away from the nest for a moment to set up his equipment. When he turned back to the nest, he saw little Esther precariously perched in the bush, struggling mightily to get back into the nest.

A few minutes later, Mr. Robin returned to the nest to feed the kids, but he was unable to help Esther back into the nest. Considering how big Esther has grown, I think it would be nearly impossible for Mr. or Mrs. Robin to pick her up at this point. So after Mr. Robin left, Bill very carefully picked up Esther and returned her to the nest. I know what you're probably thinking -- we all learned as children that you should never touch a baby animal in the wild, because the parents will detect the scent of a human, and they will reject the baby. However, according to my favorite source for all things robin-related, robins identify their children by sight and sound -- not by smell -- so picking up a baby robin will not cause its parents to reject it. (Bill did wear a pair of gloves, just to be on the safe side.)

Esther is now safely back in the nest, and she's gone back to doing what she does best (begging for worms). She seems to have recovered quite well from her fall. Kids are resilient that way. Both Mr. and Mrs. Robin have returned to the nest several times, and they don't seem to be at all bothered by Esther's brief contact with a human.

We later reviewed the video footage to find out how Esther had fallen out of the nest. It appears that she placed her foot up on the edge of the nest in an effort to get a good position for feeding time. When Mrs. Robin returned to the nest with her worms, all of the kids were very eager to get their fair share of worms. With all of the commotion, Baskin Robin (Esther's older brother) bumped her with his wing, and she tumbled out of the nest.

It's been a traumatic day for all of us, but we're very thankful that Esther is OK. We're considering installing a baby gate on the nest to prevent future accidents.

Time lapse from the day:

Friday, June 3, 2011

Our babies are growing up!

It's been 8 days since our first eggs hatched, and the kids are growing by leaps and bounds. With each day that passes, they're starting to look less like indistinguishable pink blobs and more like actual birds. The robins are now covered in feathers, and their wings have grown quite a bit. The kids also opened their eyes recently, and they seem to be very alert and active. Esther is still lagging a few days behind her siblings, but she seems to be doing quite well. I think she senses that she still has some catching up to do. Consequently, she isn't shy about pushing her siblings out of the way when it's feeding time.

Mrs. Robin is no longer sitting on the nest. Apparently now that the kids have feathers, they no longer need Mom to keep them warm. However, feeding the kids continues to be a full-time job for Mr. and Mrs. Robin. The kids have become quite adept at begging for worms. As soon as they sense any motion near the nest, all of the kids tilt their heads back and open their mouths as wide as they can. It's rather entertaining to watch.

As the kids continue to grow, I'm reminded that our time with them is limited. According to wikipedia, baby robins typically leave the nest after about two weeks. However, after leaving the nest, it takes them another two weeks or so to master the art of flying. In the mean time, they continue to follow their parents around and beg for food (much like human children who continue to beg their parents for money after they've left the nest).

A few of the kids are already starting to show some interest in flying. We've caught several glimpses of the kids hanging their heads over the side of the nest, trying to see what lies below. And we've noticed that Robin Banks likes to stand in the nest and flap his wings from time to time. So far, he hasn't been able to generate enough momentum to leave the nest, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time.
Baby Robins require a lot of worms!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

And Esther Makes Four!

We are pleased to announce that Esther (the youngest member of our robin family) hatched early on Saturday morning. Our brood is now complete, and we couldn't be more proud!

You may be wondering how we chose the name Esther for the youngest robin. As you may recall, back in April, we asked our readers to provide suggestions for baby names. We received lots of clever and entertaining suggestions for baby names, but there was one entry that stood out. One of our readers wrote:
ESTHER...My Mom passed 12-1-97 and she loved Robins...Everytime I see one I think of her...Thank YOU so much for sharing all of this with is always on my desktop...I LOVE & MISS YOU MOM! XOXO
We thought this was awfully sweet, so we decided to name the youngest robin Esther. And speaking of names, here are the names that we've chosen for the other three robins:
  • Robin Banks
  • Robin Scherbatsky (for all of the "How I Met Your Mother" fans)
  • Baskin Robin
Thanks to everyone who submitted ideas!

All of our young robins are doing quite well, and it's amazing how much they've grown in the few short days since they hatched. It's easy to identify Esther, because she's still a lot smaller than her siblings (but hopefully she'll catch up soon). Mr. and Mrs. Robin seem to be doing a great job of finding worms for the little ones to eat, so it's not surprising that they're growing like weeds.

Our young robins haven't opened their eyes yet, and they still spend most of their time sleeping (when they're not eating worms, of course). It's fun to watch how they all cuddle together and keep one another warm when Mrs. Robin is away from the nest. Mrs. Robin still spends some of her time sitting on the nest to keep the babies warm. However, as the babies grow larger, it's getting more and more difficult for Mrs. Robin to fit in the nest.

We're having a lot of fun watching the robins grow. We hope you enjoy the pictures!

Friday, May 27, 2011

And the winner is...

It's been another exciting day here at the Robin Diaries. We awoke this morning to discover that another baby robin had hatched. For those of you who are keeping score at home, we now have three baby robins and one remaining egg.

Mr. and Mrs. Robin continue to be exceptionally diligent parents. According to, baby robins need to be fed roughly every 20 minutes during daylight hours. With three hungry mouths to feed, hunting for worms has become nearly a full-time job for both parents. When Mrs. Robin isn't out hunting for worms, she spends her time sitting on the nest and keeping the babies warm. She will continue to sit on the babies for several more days, until they grow enough feathers to keep themselves warm.

On the rare occasions when Mr. and Mrs. Robin have left the nest unattended for a few minutes, we've had the opportunity to peer into the nest and get a good look at the babies. They are ridiculously cute. At this point, the babies are almost entirely bald. However, each robin has a narrow strip of feathers along its back, so it looks like they have tiny mohawks. The babies haven't opened their eyes yet, but they're already very good at holding their beaks open so that their parents can feed them worms. We've also noticed that our babies are very active -- they squirm around and wiggle their wings and legs quite a bit. It looks like they're still trying to figure out what to do with their limbs.

Now that most of our eggs have hatched, it's time to announce the winner of our "Guess the Hatch Date" contest. After carefully reviewing the Robincam footage, we determined that the first egg hatched at 6:01 AM on May 26. The winning guess was 3:20 PM on May 25 (a difference of 14 hours and 41 minutes), submitted by John from Ankeny, IA. The runner-up was Marty from Salina, KS. She guessed 11:35 AM on May 27 (a difference of 29 hours and 34 minutes). The judges have decided to award framed pictures to both the winner and the runner-up. Congratulations to John and Marty, and thanks to everyone who submitted a guess!

We are eagerly awaiting the hatching of robin #4.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

We Have Babies

We have some very cute little baby robins with white feather Mohawks in the nest today!  The first robin hatched sometime during the early morning hours, our first confirmed look at #1 was  06:01:35

#2 hatched and was visible at 09:19:20.  Mrs. Robin kept very busy today, making a lot of very short duration trips to find food for the two new mouths to feed.  Mr. Robin even made a brief appearance and caused a bit of commotion when he tried to fit in the nest with Mrs. Robin and the babies.

Below is a time lapse video for the day, slowed down to see the extra action that occurred today, followed by a high resolution image of our cute baby robins.

Our Robins are hatching right now!

I thought I saw it a bit earlier, and I just confirmed it when Mrs. Robin left the nest and gave me a clear view of the nest, two of our eggs have just hatched!  Very very exciting!

More Updates coming soon!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Berry Serious Topic

It's been a quiet week for our Robin family. Mrs. Robin continues to sit on her eggs, and Mr. Robin continues to play the role of responsible husband and father. On several occasions, we've spotted him sitting on the edge of the nest and guarding the eggs while Mrs. Robin goes off to find herself a meal. Since there isn't much news from the nest, I thought I would use today's post to tackle an important social issue.

Here at the Robin Diaries, most of our posts tend to have a cheerful tone. It just goes with the territory when you’re writing about the miracle of new life. The casual reader might conclude that we’re all about warm, fuzzy, feel-good journalism. But that simply is not the case. In fact, we are serious journalists who are not afraid to tackle the controversial issues of the day. (Although we’re certainly not above using adorable pictures of baby robins to increase our readership.)

So today, I would like to address the issue of substance abuse among robins. It’s a topic that isn’t often discussed in polite society – perhaps it’s just too uncomfortable of a topic. But it’s a problem that we can’t ignore, and today, I’m going to break the silence. That’s just the kind of hard-hitting, investigative journalist that I am.

I first became aware of the dangers of substance abuse in the avian population while reading a Wikipedia article about the diet of the American robin:
The American Robin's diet generally consists of around 40 percent invertebrates, such as beetle grubs, caterpillars and grasshoppers, and 60 percent wild and cultivated fruits and berries. They will flock to fermented Pyracantha berries, and in sufficient quantities will exhibit intoxicated behavior such as falling over while walking.
But being the hard-hitting investigative journalist that I am, I wasn’t willing to take Wikipedia’s word for it. So I decided to do a little research of my own. After doing a quick google search for “drunk robin,” I discovered that there are an alarmingly large number of women named Robin who get a kick out of posting photos and videos of themselves in an inebriated state for all the world to see. But that’s a topic for another post.

My search eventually turned up a Youtube video of a bird staggering around after eating some fermented cherries. At this point, you may be thinking, “Maybe these birds just eat fermented cherries socially. What’s the big deal?” That was my attitude, too, until I read this article about a flock of starlings in Romania that died from flying drunk. Apparently a harsh winter had made it difficult for the birds to find suitable food, so they chose instead to dine on grape marc, which is a byproduct of winemaking. Dozen of starlings died as a result their debauchery. Yes, folks, it’s all fun and games until somebody (or a whole flock of somebodies) gets killed.

Now that Mrs. Robin is a local celebrity, this topic hits particularly close to home for me. We're all familiar with the cautionary tales of Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, and countless other young starlets who have succumbed to the temptation to overindulge in fermented berries. Bill and I recently had a candid discussion with Mrs. Robin, and we warned her of the dangers of fermented berries. We let her know that she can call us any time -- day or night -- and request a ride home if she is unfit to fly.

OK, now that I've done my journalistic duty and tackled an important social issue, I hope to have some warm, fuzzy pictures of baby robins to share with you in the near future.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Last Supper

Well it looks like we all made it through the apocalypse, though it gave us an excuse to celebrate last night complete with dirt cakes and gummi worms.  You may be wondering if Mr. & Mrs. Robin got left out of the festivities.

In fact they had quite the celebration themselves, before having to endure some impressive thunderstorms last night.  While picking up ingredients for our own supper, we made a stop at a 24x7 live bait vending machine.  I kid you not, the town we live in features a coin operated bait machine, should you need night crawlers, red worms, leeches, or various other types of bait.  We opted for a dozen live nightcrawlers, which are what we commonly think of as worms.

The worms come refrigerated and are pretty docile in their Styrofoam container, but get pretty feisty when you pick them up.  We spread the dozen worms out in various parts of the yard that Mr.  & Mrs. Robin frequent to give them ample opportunity for a tasty worm snack.  While we did not actually watch to see if the worms got eaten, there was a lot of melodic chirping from our Robin duo, so we think they were sending their appreciation.

The worms in the container:

Mmm, worms:

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Robin Shower

With Mrs. Robin's due date rapidly approaching, Bill and I decided that it was time for us to throw her a baby robin shower. We invited all of the robins from our neighborhood, and we served tea and worm salad sandwiches. It was truly a lovely affair. The mother-to-be was positively glowing.

Of course, no baby shower is complete without an assortment of cringe-worthy shower games. I've never had the honor of hosting a baby shower before, but I discovered that there is no shortage of resources on the internet. With a little help from, I was ready to be the hostess with the mostest. We decided to start with the "Guess Mom's Tummy Size" game:
Have each woman pull the yarn to the size they believe would fit perfectly around the Mother-To-Be's center of her pregnant tummy. After everyone cuts their string, compare the results to the Mommy-To-Be's actual tummy. Give a prize to the woman who is the most close! This is a baby shower favorite.
Because after all, what could be more fun for an expectant mother than having all of her friends, friends of friends, and random third cousins guess the size of her belly? However, when I approached the nest to try to measure Mrs. Robin's belly, she got spooked and flew across the street.

With a bit of coaxing, we eventually persuaded the guest of honor to return to her shower. Next, we played the "Guess the Diaper Contents" game:
This game is one of the funniest and most popular baby shower games. Have the baby shower host or appointed person moderately melt 5-10 different candy bars separately, placing each one in a diaper to be viewed by everyone. Mark each diaper as A, B, C, D, etc. Have everyone guess which candy is in each of the diapers. Make sure to use some candies that have nuts, toffee, caramel, etc. You are sure to get great laughs!
Seriously, who comes up with these ideas? We started by passing around a tiny, robin-sized diaper with a melted Snickers bar in it, but we were greeted by blank stares from all of the robins. Clearly they were not amused. Then I remembered that bird poop is white, not brown. No wonder our guests were confused.

OK, so our shower games weren't exactly a smashing success. We wanted to end the shower on a more positive note, so we decided to move on to the cake and punch. We served dirt cakes, which were a huge hit with our guests:

If you'd like to make your own dirt cakes at home, here's the recipe:

10 Peanut Butter Creme Oreos
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1.5 cups milk
1 package (3.5 oz.) instant chocolate pudding mix
4 oz. frozen whipped topping, thawed
Assorted worms and insects for garnish (if serving to human guests, you can substitute gummy worms and gummy bugs)

Chop Oreos in food processor.
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth, using an electric mixer. Add milk and pudding mix, and beat on low speed until combined. Stir in whipped topping.
Spoon pudding mixture into 6 small bowls. Top with Oreo crumbs. Garnish with worms and insects. Chill one hour before serving.


If you missed the shower but would still like to send a gift, Mrs. Robin is registered at Bird, Bath and Beyond.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mr. Robin

Today, we'd like to recognize to the unsung hero of our young robin family: Mr. Robin. Although Mrs. Robin is the star of our blog, we would be remiss if we failed to mention the important role played by Mr. Robin.

Mr. Robin has not yet made any appearances on the Robincam (as far as we know), but he's been a constant fixture in our front yard lately. He keeps a close eye on Mrs. Robin, and he gives us dirty looks -- and sometimes squawks at us -- if he feels that we're getting too close to the nest. On a few occasions, we've even seen Mr. Robin chasing other birds away from the nest. When Mrs. Robin leaves the nest for meals, we often see the two of them hopping across the yard together. They look like a very happy couple.

Although Mrs. Robin is responsible for incubating the eggs, she and Mr. Robin will share in the parenting duties once the babies hatch. According to, the male and female robins share responsibility for feeding and protecting their young. Given the importance of the father's role, we are very glad that Mrs. Robin has found such a devoted and attentive mate. We think he will make an excellent father.

With Mrs. Robin's first clutch, the father didn't seem to be nearly as attentive to his family. He dropped by the nest a few times, but he didn't seem to be particularly vigilant about keeping watch over Mrs. Robin and her nest. This has led us to speculate that Mrs. Robin may have found a new father for her latest clutch. After doing a little research on the mating habits of robins, I learned that a pair of robins will typically remain together for the entire breeding season. However, the female may seek out a new mate if something happens to her first mate. So, it's hard to say for sure whether this is the same male that fathered the first clutch. If it is the same father, he seems to be taking his responsibilities much more seriously this time around. Either way, we're delighted that our young robins will be raised in a stable family with an involved father.

Now that we've properly recognized Mr. Robin, here's a clip of Mrs. Robin turning her eggs. She performs this ritual several times each day, in order to keep the eggs at a uniform temperature and prevent the babies from sticking to the inside of the shells. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Guess the Hatch Date (again)

Today has been an uneventful day here at Robin Central. (I suspect that we'll have a lot of uneventful days between now and the time the eggs hatch.) Mrs. Robin has been diligently sitting on her eggs, taking only a few brief breaks to go out and hunt for worms.

Now that the incubation has officially begun, it's time to re-launch our "Guess the Hatch Date" contest. Although our last round of "Guess the Hatch Date" wasn't exactly a smashing success, I really have a good feeling about Mrs. Robin's current clutch. Mrs. Robin seems to be taking her responsibilities much more seriously this time. Therefore, I'm confident that we'll soon have a nest full of baby robins.

Speaking of baby robins, we are once again offering an authentic, one-of-a-kind framed photograph of the baby robins to the contestant who submits the winning guess. Here are the contest rules:

  1. To enter the contest, please use the form below to specify the date and time of day that you think the first robin will hatch.
  2. All entries must be received by midnight central time on Sunday, May 22.
  3. If you expect to be whisked away in the rapture on May 21, please submit your guess early.
  4. In the event of a tie, a sudden-death gummy worm eating contest (in keeping with our robin theme) will be used as a tie breaker. The contestant who eats the most gummy worms in 60 seconds shall be declared the winner.
  5. All judges' decisions are final.
  6. Please only one guess per person.

And here are a couple pieces of information to assist you in formulating your guess:
  • According to, the incubation period for the American robin is 12-14 days.
  • Mrs. Robin laid her 4th and final egg on Sunday, May 15.
Good luck!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Better Late Than Never

Today has been a very long day for Mrs. Robin. Consequently, it's also been a long day for us. Of course, I'm not the one who just spent 5+ hours trying to lay an egg, so I guess I shouldn't complain.

In the past, Mrs. Robin has laid most of her eggs around noon or shortly thereafter. So we began checking the robincam around noon, hoping to catch a glimpse of egg #4. Mrs. Robin spent most of the afternoon in the nest, and she seemed to be squirming around quite a bit, trying to find a comfortable position. We assumed that the arrival of the fourth egg was imminent. However, on the occasions when Mrs. Robin left the nest for a minute or two, we could see that there were still only 3 eggs.

We started to become a bit concerned when 5:30 rolled around and Mrs. Robin still hadn't laid her last egg. So I did a bit of research, and I learned that spicy foods are believed to help induce labor. Sure, it may just be an old wives' tale, but we really wanted to help Mrs. Robin along. Then, just as we were about to go out to the nest and offer Mrs. Robin some extra-spicy Indian curry, it happened: Mrs. Robin stepped away from the nest for a moment, revealing four perfect eggs. That's right -- we now have a full clutch. Let the incubation begin!!
 Time Lapse from 5.15.11:

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mrs. Robin's Labor and Delivery Story (in her own words)

(Editor's Note: We are pleased to announce that we have a guest blogger today! We've invited Mrs. Robin to tell you about her day, in her own words. So, without further ado, here's Mrs. Robin.)

I decided to sleep late today. Normally, I get up before sunrise and go out to gather worms. But I've had a rough couple of days, and I was tired. If you don't know what I'm talking about, imagine trying to force an object the size of a large grape through an opening the size of a peppercorn. Now imagine doing that on four consecutive days. Yeah, it's a bit unpleasant, but I digress.

Anyway, I was lying in the nest shortly after sunrise when I heard the front door open, and then my humans came out onto the porch. They seem like nice enough humans, but I still get a little bit weirded out when they come near the nest. So, I took off and flew across the street. So much for sleeping in.

Luckily, the humans didn't stick around too long. After a minute or two, Mrs. Human took off running down the street, with Mr. Human following behind on a two-wheeled contraption. They're such a cute couple. (I've never actually learned the humans' names, so I just refer to them affectionately as Mr. and Mrs. Human.) Since I was already up, I decided I might as well go out and hunt for some worms. I knew that I had a long, hard day ahead of me, and I wanted to make sure that I was properly nourished. I headed over to the pond, where I found several plump, juicy worms. They were quite tasty.

After breakfast, Mr. Robin and I hung out in the front yard and relaxed for awhile. Then suddenly, I felt a slight twinge of pain. And then another… and another. "Honey," I said as I elbowed him in the ribs, "I think it's time." But Mr. Robin was engrossed in a game of Angry Birds, and he couldn't be bothered to give his poor, pregnant wife a lift to the nest. Typical male. "Fine," I said, "I'll just fly myself to the nest." And so I did (which, by the way, is no small feat for a robin in my condition).

By the time I arrived in the nest, the pain had become more intense. I had decided in advance that I wanted to have a natural egg-laying, at home and without drugs. I focused on doing the breathing exercises that I had practiced. He, he, hoo. He, he, hoo. The pain was getting worse, and the breathing didn't seem to be helping. I scooted around the nest, trying to find a comfortable position. Finally, I couldn't take it any more. "Somebody get me an epidural," I chirped. "This natural birth thing is for the birds! I want drugs, darn it, drugs!!!" But no one came to my assistance, so I had to lay the egg without the benefit of pain medication.

I can't tell time, so I don't know exactly how long I was in labor. I think it was at least 17 hours. It might have even been 18. Suffice it to say, it was a very long time. And then finally, just when I thought I couldn't push anymore, out popped a beautiful, blue egg. When I saw how beautiful the egg was, it made all of the pain seem worth it.

After laying egg #3, I spent most of the afternoon relaxing in the nest. Needless to say, I'm pretty exhausted. You know what the worst part of all of this is? I know that I have to get up and do it all again tomorrow. Geez, no rest for the weary!

Time Lapse for 5.14 (Higher frame rate today):

Friday, May 13, 2011


Like clockwork, Mrs. Robin popped out egg #2 around noon today. This means that our clutch is now 50% complete!

As you may recall from our previous posts, a mother robin will typically wait until she's laid all of her eggs before she begins sitting on the eggs. (This way, all of the eggs will hatch at roughly the same time.) We found this to be true of Mrs. Robin when she was laying her first clutch of eggs back in April -- she visited the nest and laid a new egg around noon each day, but otherwise, she generally didn't spend much time in the nest. However, Mrs. Robin seems to have turned into quite the homebody lately. We've spotted her sitting in the nest several times this afternoon and evening. It appears that Mrs. Robin has turned over a new leaf and is ready to devote herself to being a mother. We're so proud of our little robin!
If you’ve been following the Robin Diaries for awhile, you probably already know the drill. But in case you need a refresher, here's a quick rundown of what to expect over the next couple weeks: Mrs. Robin should continue to lay one egg each day until she has a full clutch, consisting of four eggs. She won’t officially begin the incubation process until her clutch is complete. This means that Mrs. Robin still has a couple more days to live it up, hang out with her friends, and enjoy her last few hours of being foot-loose and fancy-free. Once her clutch is complete, Mrs. Robin will begin the incubation process, which will last for approximately 12-14 days. And then, with a little luck, we’ll have a nest full of baby robins!

Time Lapse from 5.13 (It was a very windy day today):

Welcome Home, Mrs. Robin!

Welcome Home, Mrs. Robin!

We have some exciting news to share: Mrs. Robin has returned to the nest, and she has decided to give motherhood another try. Please join us in welcoming Mrs. Robin home!!

In the weeks since Mrs. Robin’s departure, Bill and I frequently spotted her sitting in our front yard. We waited patiently, checking the nest every day, and hoping to see some signs of activity. Our first glimmer of hope came this past Sunday, when we discovered that someone (presumably Mrs. Robin) had deposited some dried grass on a small ledge a few feet above the nest. When we inspected the nest, we noticed that a few clumps of grass were out of place. Apparently Mrs. Robin had begun doing some home improvement work.

Then on Tuesday, I returned from an early morning run and saw Mrs. Robin sitting in our front yard with a large clump of dried grass in her beak. I waited around for a few minutes – trying to keep a respectful distance – and then I saw Mrs. Robin carry the dried grass back to her nest. I went inside and watched via the webcam as Mrs. Robin continued her renovation work. She spent about 20 minutes scooting her little bottom around the nest and getting all of the grass packed down. Here’s a time lapse series of Mrs. Robin at work:

When I returned home from work today, I was delighted to discover a single blue egg in the nest:

That’s right – Mrs. Robin is once again with child(ren)!! From the time that Mrs. Robin left her last clutch, it only took her 16 days to get started on her next clutch. So, it appears that Mrs. Robin has, um, a rather active dating life. We haven’t been able to ascertain whether it’s the same father or a new love interest. But we’re not here to judge.

Bill reviewed the Robincam footage this evening, and Mrs. Robin appeared to be chirping (screaming?) quite loudly as she laid her egg. Poor thing – it must be quite unpleasant to give birth to such a large egg without an epidural. Perhaps we should try to teach her some Lamaze techniques. Here is the time lapse video of the day the first egg was laid:

We will keep you posted on Mrs. Robin’s progress.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

An update on Mrs. Robin

First, the bad news: Mrs. Robin has not returned to the nest since noon on Tuesday. At this point, I think it's safe to conclude that the eggs are no longer viable.

Now, the good news: Bill and I have had several Mrs. Robin sightings (or at least, we think it's Mrs. Robin). We haven't been able to make a positive identification, but a bird bearing a striking resemblance to Mrs. Robin has made several appearances in our front yard over the past few days. We're very glad to see that Mrs. Robin appears to be alive and well. After her brush with fame on Tuesday, we hope that Mrs. Robin has been able to find a quite place to hide out, far away from the photographers, autograph seekers, and paparazzi.

In other news, a small song bird (not a robin) visited the nest this afternoon and attempted to steal one of the eggs. The egg was laying in the planter below the nest when we got home this evening. Here is a video of the egg thief:

We are still hopeful that Mrs. Robin will eventually return to her nest and give motherhood another try. I've done some research to try to find out whether robins reuse their nests, and I've found quite a bit of conflicting information. Some sources claim that robins will reuse their nests from previous years. Other sources indicate that robins rarely reuse their nests, because the nests tend to become dirty and infested with parasites. However, given the fact that Mrs. Robin only inhabited her nest for a little over a week, we are hoping that the nest is still relatively clean and parasite-free.

Tonight, Bill and I decided that it was time to remove the remaining eggs from the nest. We are hoping that this will make the nest more inviting for Mrs. Robin, in case she decides to return. We wore gloves in order to avoid touching the nest with our hands and leaving behind a human scent. We wanted to find a dignified resting place for the eggs, and we eventually decided to lay them to rest in our planter.

Lastly, we want to thank all of the readers who have expressed their concerns and condolences over the past few days. When we first started following Mrs. Robin's journey, I never imagined that we would grow so attached to a bird. As corny as it sounds, Mrs. Robin quickly became a part of our family, and we were very sad to see her go. We are hopeful that Mrs. Robin will return to the nest soon. We will keep you posted on any future developments.