Baby Robins

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by RJM62, May 27, 2012.

  1. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    These youngsters are living on my front porch. Seems like it was only yesterday that they were eggs. Where does the time go?

    Sunrise, sunset. Sunrise, sunset...

    -Rich
     

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  2. Jeanie

    Jeanie Pattern Altitude

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    Great pics... I'm hearing Tevia sing
     
  3. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Thanks. And that's one of my favorite musicals of all time, by the way.

    -Rich
     
  4. DaleB

    DaleB En-Route

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    We've got our usual crop of robins in the bushes -- I chased one pair off the front porch column five times before they got the message. But the real surprise this year came when I found a chicken-sized egg left in the mulch under some day lilies under the oak in our front yard. As the days went on the number of eggs increased, one or two at a time. Now we have Momma Mallard sitting on eleven of the darn things. She's OK with us getting close enough to touch, she figured out we're not a threat after I left her a little cup full of water next the nest. She'll watch the lawn mower from a few feet away when we go around the tree. Never saw such a thing.

    It's going to be really entertaining when they hatch.
     
  5. Lawreston

    Lawreston En-Route

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    That would be "Tevye." "l'chaim!" I've done the production with three companies; once as Tevye; twice as Lazar Wolf,the butcher. I'd do it again in a heartbeat if the opportunity were to arise.

    :eek:)
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2012
  6. Ghery

    Ghery Final Approach

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    The one musical I've seen on Broadway. Back in 1969. It was great.
     
  7. Geico266

    Geico266 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    We are on our second brood of bluebirds, and the purple martin colony has settled in for the season. We get everything from great horned owls to hummingbirds, baltimore orioles to Canada geese. Love them all. War on sparrows though. :yesnod:
     
  8. Everskyward

    Everskyward Administrator Management Council Member

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    Came home after being gone for a week. I don't hear chirping from inside my wall today. I guess it's time to hire someone to do repairs. Of course I said that last year, and the year before, and the year before...
     
  9. Skylane81E

    Skylane81E Final Approach

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    I have greyhounds, no birds nesting in my yard!
     
  10. Lawreston

    Lawreston En-Route

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    I don't have any baby robins; just some reptiles I picked up while working in my flower gardens. The smallest is about 1-1½" long; the others not much bigger.

    HR
     

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  11. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    We have barn swallows that nest in the rafters of the porch roof at the airport. You can sit in the shade of the roof and watch the babies get fed just a couple feet away. I didn't have my camera with me today or I'd have some pictures of my own to post. The swallows are very tolerant of humans getting close, they nest right next to the airport bench and there is always somebody sitting there hanging out.
     
  12. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I think some birds, both entire species (as with most of the parrot family) and certain individuals of other species (like these robins, who built their nest feet away from my door, where I walk in and out all day and sit and sip cappuccino in the evenings), adapt to humans' presence and use it as a defense against predators. Once they determine that we're no threat to them, we become useful as predator repellents.

    Just a hunch, mind you.

    -Rich
     
  13. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Last year I got pictures of the adults doing some ridge soaring. The winds were blowing over the terminal building and the swallows were hovering in the ridge lift:
     

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  14. Geico266

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    I watch birds fly all the time. In some weird way I think it helps me be a better pilot, but I digress. :redface:

    It is amazing to watch how they fly when the winds are high. They use mechanical turbulence to their advantage and go about their business like nothing is wrong. Watching buzzards soar for 20 mins and never flap their wings. Pretty amazing if you ever really watch them and understand flight. Makes us look silly worrying about cross winds. ;)
     
  15. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Some new pictures of the kids (taken this morning).

    -Rich
     

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  16. gkainz

    gkainz Final Approach

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    Every time I see this thread title the song "A White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation" pops into my head ... or "El Paso City"
     
  17. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    If I'd thought about it, I would have called the thread "The Kids on the Porch," which is what I've been calling the robins when I annoy my friends and family text the pictures to my friends and family.

    I figure they'll fledge some time this weekend. Should be fun to watch their first solos.

    -Rich
     
  18. Lawreston

    Lawreston En-Route

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    Show them these. Just at the corner of my door step; hopefully, eating the slugs and bugs in the flower garden areas.

    HR
     

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  19. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Nice snake pictures!

    Actually, from what I've read, robins have to be taught what to fear by their parents. This learning apparently begins once the birds have fledged, when their parents teach them -- verbally, by vocalized danger signals -- what animals are dangerous to them. Until they're taught, fledgling robins apparently have no fear of humans, dogs, cats, snakes, etc.

    For whatever reason, the mother doesn't seem bothered by my climbing into the rafters to snap photos of the kids. The father watches from a few feet away, but doesn't say anything. But both parents go into a danger response when the neighbor comes around. Go figger.

    I would have thought that the fear response would be to generalized to all humans in general, not to individual humans (nor to all humans with the singular exception of me). I wouldn't think that a robin would have enough cognitive ability to do that. Hawks, falcons, etc., sure. But robins?

    After reading up on them, however, it seems there's quite a bit of teaching and learning that must happen, so apparently robins' cognitive abilities are a lot more impressive than I used to believe.

    -Rich
     
  20. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Another thing I noticed today is that they've started orienting themselves so that they're always facing upwind. All four of them will reposition themselves in the nest so they're facing into the breeze. I guess they're getting ready to fledge.

    -Rich
     
  21. rpadula

    rpadula En-Route

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    Looks crowded. Bet they can't wait to move out! :D
     
  22. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I bet they bounce their landings like most student pilots.

    It's interesting to see how much they've changed since the first set of pictures.
     
  23. kimberlyanne546

    kimberlyanne546 Final Approach

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    I found a lizard in a friend's hangar last night. I caught it by hand, picked it up, let everyone pet it, then released it outside at the pilot's request. I named him blue becaue apparently that is the kind of lizard he was (blue throated or blue chested or something). He was so cute.
     
  24. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Maybe it's the beard, Rich... you're just a moving nest! :) :) :)
     
  25. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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  26. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Well, three of the four nestlings fledged this morning. Unfortunately, the parents were not willing for me to be there during this phase of their training. I was able to photograph mama from behind my storm door, but she just sat on the railing until I walked away from the door (blurry picture taken through Plexiglas attached).

    Through the venetian blind hanging on the front window, however, I was able to observe flight training. It consisted of mama standing a foot or so upwind of the nest, spreading her wings, and vocalizing something to the nestlings.

    The first nestling then stood on the nest facing upwind and spread its wings, apparently feeling the way its wings interacted with the air. This lasted about half a minute or so. Then it sort of hopped into the air, banged its head on the porch roof, and clumsily fluttered down and landed vertically on the porch railing.

    It shook its head as if shaking off the bump from the collision with the ceiling, and spread its wings again, playing with the air, until taking off into a gentle gust of breeze. It gracefully but weakly flew about 20 feet and landed on the grass, where it hopped around for a while until mama came to meet it, and led it to the brook (probably to teach it how to find its own worms).

    It took two legs of flight for the fledgling to make it to the brook, which is about 50 or 60 feet away. Its flight was graceful, but those flight muscles had never been used before today. But after a while it reappeared and flew back to the porch railing in one leg, and sat on the railing by my door.

    I walked out onto the porch hoping to take a picture of the fledgling. It wasn't afraid of me at all at first, and actually took a couple of hops toward me on the railing. But then one of the parents yelled at it, and it flew away.

    The parents tolerated me -- and maybe even considered me useful as a predator repellent -- while the babies were eggs and nestlings. But now that they've fledged, they have to learn survival skills -- and avoiding humans and other animals with forward-facing eyes is part of that training.

    Oddly enough, the parents don't seem to care if I get close to the one remaining nestling (who is active and alert, but not quite ready to fledge). But they warned off the fledglings from getting close to me. They also warned them away from my neighbor, and his cat, and presumably other things judging by the cacophony of warnings ringing through the air.

    One or the other seems to always have both the nest and the fledglings in sight, and when the fledglings approach something that could be dangerous to them, they vocalize and warn them away.

    For their part, the fledglings seem to be alternating between trips to the brook with one or the other parent (at which point I lose sight of them behind the shrubbery), and exercising their flight muscles by taking longer and longer flights from tree to tree, occasionally coming down to land in the grass and poke around, presumably for worms or bugs. Unlike my own flight training, takeoffs and landings seem to be natural to the fledglings. Developing strength for distance is what they work on.

    Unfortunately (for me), the fledglings will no longer let me close enough to get pictures of them. They had no fear of me this morning, but now they have learned from their parents that humans are a threat, and they fly away. All it took was one lesson. They're quick studies.

    It will be very interesting to see whether the parents use the same nest again. They usually don't unless they consider it to have been a highly successful one. In that case, they sometimes tidy up and install a new floor, and mama starts laying eggs again as soon as the last nestling has fledged.

    This nest would qualify in one way: All four eggs survived to fledge. But on the other hand, there was the problem of the annoying, bearded guy climbing into the rafters to take pictures. I'm curious what their decision will be.

    If they do re-use it, I may try to rig some sort of remote-control camera up in the rafters.

    -Rich
     

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  27. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    And then there were none.

    The last of the nestlings just fledged. Attached are a couple of pictures of it doing its final pre-flight checklist, but unfortunately it took off rather suddenly and I wasn't able to reposition myself to catch its first flight. I actually took several dozen pictures of it getting ready to fly: the robin didn't seem at all bothered by my being there. But all the pictures were pretty much the same except for the direction it was facing at the moment, so I'm only attaching two.

    Unlike its nest-mates, this robin decided to fledge on its own, without mama being present. It spent about an hour walking along the edge of the nest, variously repositioning itself as the breeze shifted. Then it faced toward the brook and just suddenly took off without so much as a nod of the head.

    Its first flight was a long, weak, but graceful one, descending with the terrain and landing across the brook. It was a much longer first flight than any of the other fledglings had made. But the brook is also lower than the grass around the house, so naturally it would travel a greater distance at a given rate of descent.

    I can only wonder whether it chose that flight plan because that's the way the wind happened to be blowing when it decided it was time to fly, because possibly it saw or heard its nest-mates or parents over there hunting worms, or because it learned from observing the three prior fledglings, all of whom were led by their parents to the brook shortly after their first flights.

    I do know that it was hungry: Once the other robins fledged, neither parent returned to the nest to feed the remaining one. I guess that's their way of telling them it's time to fly. So maybe it just figured out that the brook was where the worms were, and decided that it was either fly or be hungry.

    Now the nest is empty. I don't know whether it will be re-used. If mama hasn't started renovations within a few days, I'll take it down, clean up the poop, and spray for the bird mites. It's been a lot of fun watching these robins, though, both from a naturalistic perspective and observing their first flights.

    -Rich
     

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  28. Everskyward

    Everskyward Administrator Management Council Member

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    Cool thread. :thumbsup:
     
  29. kimberlyanne546

    kimberlyanne546 Final Approach

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    Very cool thread.
     
  30. rpadula

    rpadula En-Route

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    And we will call this last one "Henning." :D
     
  31. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Cool story and photos Rich. Thanks for sharing.

    And I didn't know Robins filed flight plans!!! ;) ;) ;)
     
  32. Old Geek

    Old Geek Pattern Altitude

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    Sounds like a Western Fence Lizard. The wife and I were talking about this being the year for them. We see a half-dozen every morning on our walk. I've always been amazed that some of them will just sit there and let you pick them up.
     
  33. kimberlyanne546

    kimberlyanne546 Final Approach

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    And I thought it was my mad skills in animal handling that allowed me to pick him up!

    Here is a photo (poor quality) I took of him with my cell phone in my hand:


    [​IMG]
     
  34. DaleB

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    Well, our ducklings hatched today. Momma Mallard was out there with seven little ones. Now, she started out with 11 eggs, and there were two unhatched in the nest the last time I looked... don't know what happened to the other two eggs. They could be buried in the mulch for all I know.

    About 6 PM or so she tried setting out, ducklings in tow, for the lake. Problem is, the lake is half a mile through residential streets with people coming home from work. We saw a girl who stopped her car to put a couple of the chicks back in our yard. Then we noticed there were only five following Momma... two were huddled under a bush. We put them back in line (which may have been a mistake, I don't know) but eventually Momma decided it wasn't a good time to go.

    There is one that seemed a little weak, he was like a little Weeble duckling. I figured he was just the most recently hatched, but later on I went out to check and found him in sad shape, half dead about two feet from the nest. I warmed him up, dried him off, tried to feed him a little (with very little success). He seemed to be doing a little better, but still seemed like he had balance issues or something. He's just not able to stand like the others. We figured the little guy was either going to live through the night or die, regardless of whether he was inside or out, and the dog would have loved to play with him but the chick wouldn't have survived play time. I took him out and put him as close to the nest as I could. Momma was not appreciative and bit my hand... really? Honey, you've got a duck bill, I'm not impressed. But Baby will either be live or die with family. I'm assuming she'll set out for the lake again in the morning. We may have to tag along far enough in front and not to spook her, to keep the rank and file from getting squashed by SUVs.
     
  35. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It's funny how baby animals trigger parental instincts in humans.

    They also trigger spending instincts. I bought a new camera over the weekend.

    Even wildlife "kids" wind up costing money, it seems...

    -Rich
     
  36. DaleB

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    Well, Momma moved the ducklings this morning... all but the one I warmed up last night, which I figure probably prolonged his life by about the two hours I spent with it. Last we heard one of the neighbors posted that she was up at a busy intersection trying to cross a 4-lane divided road during the 7 AM rush hour, and things didn't look too happy for her. Apparently she didn't realize there is a BIG lake she could get to without crossing any busy roads, instead of the little pond across the road. You can only do so much.
     
  37. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That's true, Dale. You can lead a horse to water, but not a duck. Sorry about the one who didn't make it.

    -Rich
     
  38. DaleB

    DaleB En-Route

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    I figure that's why she laid 11 eggs. Over 50% made it out of the yard; I don't know how many made it to the pond but their chances were pretty good.

    So, now the question becomes what to do with the unhatched eggs left behind. See, it wouldn't be a question, but I will be seeing a Filipino coworker in a couple of weeks...
     
  39. Lawreston

    Lawreston En-Route

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    A couple years ago, but at Twitchell's Airport's Sea Plane Base:

    HR
     

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  40. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The robins and all the other critters people have posted pictures of inspired me to buy a new camera. I had to go downstate on a consulting job and meat the client at Microcenter, anyway; so I bought a camera while I was there.

    I bought Nikon Coolpix L810. Nothing fancy, mind you, but I like the lens. I'm not a good enough photographer to justify spending a grand on a DSLR just now, so I wanted a really versatile lens.

    I'm thinking about doing some nature / wildlife photography and seeing if I can sell it as stock. If so, then I may go for a DSLR. At least I'll be able to deduct it if I'm selling the pictures.

    In any event, today was the first real chance I had to fool around with the new camera. Here are some pics. (I've since reduced the ISO setting and the compression to decrease the graininess and improve the image quality.)

    -Rich
     

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