Like an over 35 year old expectant mother waiting for the amnio results before telling anyone, I have not wanted to post about our nest.  A robin built a nest in our arbor about 4 weeks ago.  I saw her, out of the corner of my eye, collecting dried grass, etc., from around the yard, but I did not realize where she was building her nest.  It wasn’t until many days later, while I was investigating the growth of some vines, that I looked up into the arbor, and there it was!  A nest!  Over the next few days I read up on robin nesting practices (from the book Birdscaping Your Garden by George Adams) and observed the courtship of our mama-to-be by 3 swains.  Then one day two weeks ago I noticed that she was sitting on her nest and being very agitated when we got anywhere near.  I asked my husband to get up on a chair and look inside the nest and lo and behold, there were 3 beautiful blue eggs.

We’ve been lucky, because the arbor is right outside our sunroom window, which we use as an office room.  Over the past 2 weeks, we’ve been observing Heloise on her nest.  Her nest is right near one of my main veggie beds, so it’s been a challenge to respect her space while taking care of garden chores.  We closed off the path that goes through the arbor, which has been a hassle (worth it, of course).  After a few days she got used to me, and I could get pretty close without her flying off.  Then yesterday, while I was sitting at our desk, I happened to look at the nest at the right moment, when one of the parents was feeding the babies.  I’m guessing they hatched on Friday, which makes their gestation exactly 2 weeks, which is what I’ve been expecting based on my book.   Happily all three eggs hatched.  Since then, we have been watching them from the window and from the garden.  The boys, my husband, and I can now recognize both the male (Hector) and the female (Heloise) both by their behavior and their plumage, wherever they are in our yard.  Hector and Heloise play a tag team effort feeding and protecting the chicks.  After Hector feeds them he stands guard, whereas Heloise always sits on the nest (it’s getting crowded).  They are doing a great job, and even though the chicks’ eyes are still closed, we can see they are getting bigger and more vigorous.

This has been an amazing experience so far, to be able to observe so closely the breeding habits of the American Robin, harbinger of spring, and such a quintessential American bird.  We’re lucky that Heloise chose our yard, but it wasn’t entirely circumstantial.  About 6 years ago I certified my garden with the National Wildlife Federation as a backyard wildlife habitat.  I coughed up the extra bucks to get the sign (worth it), which amazingly is nailed to the gate right beneath where Heloise and Hector are tending their chicks.  It’s not hard to get certified as a backyard wildlife habitat, if you are already gardening organically, grow some native plants, and have a variety of plantings.  The key for us was getting a birdbath, because having a water source for wildlife is essential for the backyard habitat.  We’ve observed Hector and Heloise primarily hunting for, and catching, worms on our property, and bathing and drinking in our birdbaths.  Apparently they’ve found it to be a good enough habitat to raise their babies.  We’re hoping that they are successful, and that in about 2 weeks we’ll have 3 more robins flying around our yard (eating our worms and strawberries…).

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