Saturday, July 5, 2008

Growing Like Weeds

The first sight this morning was Mama robin sitting on a branch outside of the nest and then on a cross beam of the nearby scaffolding. Babies watching her. This is standard pre-fledge behavior the lesson being, see, there's life out of the nest. The next surprise was the kids. They morphed into meerkats with wings overnight. I don't expect a first fledge for a few days, so this was a shock. Time to count nestlings. Could someone have fledged early? I could see three kids. Check the ground. No dead babies on the ground. Wait for first feed. Worms get delivered, three kids jump up. Ah, there's the fourth kid asleep on the bottom of the heap. Fast asleep. No response to food delivery. Asleep? Ill? Injured? Defective? No problem. Mama noticed Sleeping Beauty too and pecked him on the head. Baby opens eyes, but doesn't beg for food. Baby doesn't request food until third worm delivery and then he's the only one fed by parent. But geez, how would you like a pecker for an alarm clock?! And speaking of pecking, after feeding, the parent waits for baby to poop. A clean nest means removing waste immediately. If baby doesn't deliver rear end gets pecked. I've seen this at every robin's nest. Maybe this is where the term "pecking order" comes from. It rained very hard mid-day. Mama stayed on nest wings spread, protecting her kids from drowning. By 4p.m. the rain had stopped. Back to nest. Kids have grown more. This nest is a wonderful muddle of life, but sorting out where everyone is is getting difficult. And don't tell me they're not smiling for the camera.

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