May 22, 2001 Empty Nest Syndrome?

Do you think the parents miss their babies? Right now the father robin is busy listening for babies in trouble, and still finding food for them. But the babies are growing smarter and more competent every day, already finding some juicy bugs and berries all by themselves. Which is lucky, because the mother is already at work on a new nest! Soon the babies in Julie's photo nest study will have new brothers and sisters!

Photo by Julie Brophy

Discussion of Previous Questions

Q. How do they protect themselves before they can fly away from danger?

When it comes to dangerous predators, robin fledglings are pretty helpless for several days before they can fly. If a shadow passes over them, they often crouch and hold very still, and sometimes they blend in enough to escape detection. If something tries to hurt them, they make distress calls that alert their parents, who will fly at a snake, cat, blue jay, crow, owl, or sometimes even a huge person. Adult robins weigh only 2 1/2 to 3 ounces, but their speed and bill can drive off many dangers.

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

Some of the worst dangers to robin fledglings are

  • Lawn sprays that include insecticides or some herbicides
  • Cats
  • Crows, blue jays, and hawks
  • Foxes and coyotes

It's tough to be a baby bird! Baby robins spend so much time on the grass that lawn pesticides can be very dangerous to them. Their growing feathers are itchy, and when they preen, anything coating their feathers gets into their mouths. To help ensure that the baby robins in YOUR yard are safe, ask your family and neighbors to keep their cats indoors and to not use unnecessary pesticides.