Thursday, July 22, 2010

The sanitation system

The robin Mama builds a wonderfully strong little cup-like nest. Cozy. If not cared for it could become a messy home for the babies. There's a feeding-cleaning routine. Bring food. Wait. After feeding the baby poops. Robins don't squirt waste like the raptors or pigeons. They deliver poop in a fecal sac, a little balloon. Parent robin either removes sac to a spot far from the nest or eats fecal sac. This is not disgusting. There is nutritional value for the hard-working parent. I have seen robin parents feed and wait.. and wait and wait, and if the baby doesn't deliver the goods that baby gets pecked on the rump to remind it what it has to do. Of course, there are mistakes. During the day the parent will check the nest and clean it up. Yesterday I watched the Papa shove the babies to the right of the nest in order to clean up the floor of the nest on the left. The nest is now getting very crowded. It looked like a jumble of little robin bodies during the clean-up. If bugs move into the nest fabric the parent will eat those bugs.

The most astonishing thing I ever saw was a baby who delivered a fecal sac that shot out of the nest. Poop rocket. I had some work to take care of and assumed that out-of-nest was satisfactory for the robin parent. An hour later I came downstairs in time to see the robin parent look down to the ground, see the fecal sac, fly down, pick it up and deliver it to the dump site away from the nest, the equivalent of keeping a clean lawn. The are human beings who aren't this fastidious.

The babies have been fed. Papa waiting for delivery.

Present rump.
One fecal sac to be flown away. Well-trained kid.

Notice the growth. This is only 24 hrs. since previous posting.

More food
Wait for delivery

Very fine fecal sac to be taken away.

For this nest the dumping ground is across the garden a good 75' away.
Some of my pals have blurted, "Are you out of your mind?!" Nope. I'm observing. This is what robins do. It's fun to watch and learn. Their behavior is fascinating. The camera lens is very strong, so I'm not cramping their life, but every once in a while parent robin picks up fecal sac and strafes me upon nest departure. I've been "anointed" before. So far no "oops" from this family.

No comments: