We’ve seen a lot of development in the baby robin the last week. (You can read Robins, Part 1 here.) I’m a little saddened to say "robin"-singular, though. About a day after I took this picture:
I found the smallest baby robin on the ground below the nest, not moving or breathing. Then on Sunday, when CJ and I shot most of the rest of these photos, there was only one baby robin left the nest (no sign of the other one).
On our way out, we saw momma-bird return with what looked like a dragonfly in her beak.
What happened next was pure gold. Momma-bird put the dragonfly in baby’s beak, then pulled it out. Then back-in, then out. Then again. And again. I can only imagine the dialog between the two:
Momma: "This is a nutritious bug. It will help you grow up big." (tries to put it in baby’s mouth) "And." (tries again) "Strong!" (tries again)
Baby: "But momma! It’s got WINGS. I don’t like wings!"
Momma: "You’ve never had anything with wings before. You don’t know if you like it or not. You just need to try it. You’re my ‘trying’ bird, remember?" (Drops the bug in baby’s mouth)
Baby: "Mmmphpmmpm. Ptooie!" (bug falls out into the nest; Momma eats it)
Momma: "Sigh. Yep, you’re my trying bird."
When we got back from church, we found the nest was completely empty. I walked over carefully to confirm it, and immediately looked down. The baby was now down on the ground, in the bushes. He was holding very still, clearly breathing, and looking at me. I looked around and saw momma-bird close by. (And probably more than a little anxious that I was so close.)
Clearly momma hadn’t abandoned her baby. I took that to be a good sign. I figured the baby fell out of the nest. Since it was clearly still alive, and looking pretty strong, my first instinct was to put on some gloves and put it back in the nest.
CJ went inside and looked up caring for baby robins. What we found surprised us. Once baby robins start to get their flight feathers, need to get some "field" experience – literally. Not being able to actually fly out of the nest, my guess is that baby-bird has two options – either "fall with style", or get shoved out. Either way, they spend a few days on the ground, learning some valuable life skills. Momma stays close by to airlift food in. (Source: http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/health/rehabilitation/baby_birds.html )
I checked again on Monday when I left for work, and there was no sign of baby or momma anywhere. Hopefully both are doing well. Thank-you momma-bird, for letting us in to your family. (And for not dive-bombing me when I got close.)