May 21, 2001 (continued): Getting Grounded

The baby robins jumped from the nest before they could even fly! Fortunately, all the branches around the nest catch them. They practice hopping and walking, fluttering their wings a lot, and within a couple of days make their first short flights.

Q. How do they protect themselves before they fly?

Q. What are some of the dangers that these babies face?

Photo by Julie Brophy

Discussion of Previous Questions

Q. Why do robins leave their safe nest before they can fly and when there are so many dangers outside the nest?

Baby robins fledge because an instinct--something deep in their bones--tells them they must. This is important, because when they are just 12-14 days old, their brains are at precisely the right stage to learn a lot of important skills. Even before they fly, they must learn to walk and hop, to balance on branches, and to observe the many sights and sounds in their home area. They will meet and learn to interact with neighboring robins and to recognize danger. Some baby robins do die during this dangerous time, but many live long lives especially because they had the chance to learn about the world during this critical developmental stage when they can experiment while their parents are still looking out for them.

Q. Will the baby robins return to their nest? Where else might they sleep?

The baby robins will never return to this nest! Nests for most birds are NOT houses at all--they're just baby cradles. Now the babies will start sleeping in sheltered tree branches, as adult robins do.

See the next Robin Nest Photo Lesson and discussion of today's questions.