May 19, 2001: Studying the World

What do you think these babies are thinking about? Baby birds in species that migrate by night notice how the stars move around Polaris. What do you think baby robins look at all day? Scientists know that they notice where the sun is during the day, and that its position in the sky changes as the day goes on. How will this awareness help them during migration? The nest is getting pretty crowded, isn't it?

Q. How will noticing the position of the sun in the sky during the day help a robin during migration?

Q. How does this crowded nest change the family's nighttime sleeping arrangements?

Photo by Julie Brophy

Discussion of Previous Questions

Q. Before they open their eyes, how do they recognize their parents? How do they know when their parents are arriving with food?

When these babies first hatched, they didn't recognize their own parents! They could feel the vibrations or shake of the nest when a parent landed on the rim or nearby on the branch, and could sometimes feel the parent's cool shadow looming above them. Each baby knew by instinct to pop up with its mouth open, and instantly a yummy worm materialized in its mouth! Little by little, as they hear their parents' voices they will learn to recognize them by sound. And so as soon as they open their eyes, they'll know who their parents are.

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