a peek inside the fishbowl

19 May, 2014

Final #Nestwatch update

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life|Ottawa

Robin on the lookout

We came home last night into a dark house. It was late, and I was tired, but it occurred to me that I wanted to see if our baby robins were ok.

I’ve never looked into the nest at night before. I was wary of shining a flashlight on the chicks at a vulnerable time and scaring the mother, but last night I suddenly wanted to see what was going on in there so I asked Mark to get his little light and have a peek.

I watched from the window as he peered into the hedge from the front porch. I knew something was amiss as soon as he passed the light over the hedge. It was sadly empty. I could see it was so, even from my perspective.

Mark checked the area for signs of carnage: feathers, mangled baby bodies, anything that would indicate a predator had attacked while we were away. There was nothing. I double checked the area again this morning and this is what I saw:

Empty nest

We consulted our bird books and the interwebs and learned that baby birds can indeed fledge this early. They can’t fly, but they leave anyway, which means the parents keep feeding them for a couple of additional weeks while the babies hop around the ground and their flight feathers develop.

Here’s an interesting way to think about the nest: it’s just a cradle, not a home.

I woke up this morning, groggy, with the pillow on my head. Strangely, I was having a dream about tweeting Nestwatch updates. I took the pillow off my head, and as my eyes adjusted to the bright morning light I realized what had really woke me: a robin’s call. A singular loud chirp that was unlike anything I had heard recently. I got up, got dressed, and went downstairs. There in the backyard, in the middle of the grass, sat a small brown lump. My eyes were still blurry from sleep. What was that? It wasn’t until I saw a patch of red skimming the lawn nearby that I realized what it was.

At least one of the babies, from what I can see, is alive and living in the undergrowth of our backyard. This is where I found him this morning after a bit of searching. He was hard to spot; sitting so still. His feathers blended in perfectly with the dappled light of the morning.

Fledgling robin

Baby robin chick.

Good luck little baby. I’m rooting for you.

Edited to add: Mark made a video!

4 Responses to "Final #Nestwatch update"

1 | andrea tomkins

May 19th, 2014 at 11:14 am


There’s some good information about robins from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. This is interesting to know:

“An American Robin can produce three successful broods in one year. On average, though, only 40 percent of nests successfully produce young. Only 25 percent of those fledged young survive to November. From that point on, about half of the robins alive in any year will make it to the next. Despite the fact that a lucky robin can live to be 14 years old, the entire population turns over on average every six years.”

2 | Sarah McCormack

May 20th, 2014 at 11:29 am


you’re an empty nester!

3 | Chantal

May 22nd, 2014 at 11:24 am


love that video. So sweet!

4 | andrea tomkins

May 22nd, 2014 at 1:09 pm


Thanks Chantal! I love it too. It’s such a sweet moment.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark. We have two daughters: Emma (19) and Sarah (17). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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