Robin Nest Cam Lesson #4: Busting Out!

(To view video, click on the photo)


As you watch the video clips, notice all these things:

  • In the first clip, which baby seems closest to leaving the nest? How does the biggest, strongest baby have an advantage at feeding time?
  • In the second clip, one of the babies is preening. What are the other two doing? Why do you think they spend so much time preening?
  • In the third clip, one of the babies has fledged, and there are only two nestlings remaining. (Karin Nanos assured us that she and her students saw the parents feeding the fledgling, so are sure it survived.) Notice how they both have more wiggle room now that they have the nest to themselves.
  • In the fourth clip, notice how much attention they are paying to their wing and tail feathers as they preen. These are the feathers that grow the longest. Birds seem to be itchy where new feathers are growing in. Preening probably feels good!
  • In the fifth clip, why do you suppose the parent robin is sitting on top of the two babies?
  • In the sixth clip, watch how one baby ends up out of the nest. Does it look like it jumped out on purpose? What do you think will happen next?
  • In the seventh clip, notice how the baby still inside the nest seems to be trying to leave the nest. Both nestlings have been exercising their wings. Do you think they need practice before they can hop and walk?
  • The eighth clip is our favorite one! Do you think the baby who fledged was leaving on purpose? What do you think its brother or sister was thinking when it saw it leave?

After viewing the videos, discuss these questions with your classmates or in your journal! Discussion will appear in Final Robin Cam Discussion

Discussion of Questions from Lesson #3
In the first clip, the father came in with the food. Which parent deals with the baby droppings in this one?
In this clip, the father fed the nestling, but the mother picked up and ate the fecal sac.

In the second clip, two of the babies are preening. Do you think it's hard for the third baby to nap while the other two are grooming themselves?
The third baby is getting squeezed and stepped on! Fortunately, this doesn't hurt, but all that jostling probably makes it very hard to sleep!

In the third clip, the father has just fed the babies, and one of the babies poops. What does the father do with the fecal sac? Do the babies notice when he flies away? Do you think that watching him fly makes them think about the days when they, too, will be able to fly?
The father carries away the fecal sac, probably to drop far from the nest, where predators will not be able to trace it. The babies all turn in his direction when he flies away, and appear to be watching him. No one knows what they're thinking, or if they're studying the way he flies. But it's fun to wonder about it!

In the fourth clip, two of the babies appear to be sound asleep and the other is sitting quietly when suddenly the father flies in and they all pop up. It looks like they pop up a split second before he actually lands on the nest. How do you think they knew he was coming? Adults feed the baby or babies that appear to be the hungriest when they return. Do you think being very fast about this makes it more likely that they will get some food?
Actually the timing is VERY close between the babies popping up and the father landing. But watch the baby in front--its eyes open wide BEFORE the father arrives. It might have heard his wings flapping, he may have called (we can't hear anything on these video clips!) or it might have felt the rush of air as he flew in or felt the nest jostle a bit. The babies all jumped up very fast, like little jack-in-the-boxes. But it might have been hard for the father to tell which one was first!

In the fifth clip, it's clear the nest is getting crowded. The baby who is preening is perched on the edge of the nest part of the time. Notice how big its feet are! The feet and legs of a robin reach adult size before the rest of the baby does, giving the baby a clumsy appearance. Do you think the big toes help it to preen?
Those big toes are probably very helpful when the baby preens. They also probably help it balance, and are strong enough to hang on tight to the nest. This is especially important when it is scratching and preening so close to the edge!