Monday, April 7, 2008

Busy robins

In southern Indiana, it's finally spring. Sunny and in the 60s, perfect weather for gardening. I started clearing the dead foliage from the flower beds, and my mate-4-life mowed the grass for the first time this season. We use a push-mower (no gas), so we can't let it get very long.

There are quite a few robins who hang out in our yard. They hop through the back yard, flicking the leaves aside with their bills and digging worms or bugs out from underneath.

One robin was building a nest somewhere nearby, and kept returning to the back yard for dead grass and plant matter left from last year. The robin in the photo above has a mouthful of old plant fluff and grass; the robin below has strands of grass. Both photos were taken on Sunday in our back yard.

According to my handy reference sources, female robins build the nest in layers: 1-a foundation layer of grass, leaves, and twigs; 2- the mud layer, pressed into a bowl shape on top of the grass layer; and 3-the soft inner lining. Our robins were working on that first layer over the weekend. Robins lay 3-4 blue eggs, and they usually raise 2 broods in one season. They stick with their mate for the season, but not for life.

I think I know where these robins are building, though I haven't been able to spot the nest yet. We put out nesting material in net bags and also on the ground. Feathers, straw, short (3") bits of string or yarn, dog hair, bits of wool -- all make good nesting material. Some we gather from around the house, and some we buy from the local birdwatcher's store. I think it would be cool to find some of my old yarn in a robin's nest. But it looks as though we're producing good nesting material just by not raking the lawn!

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