American Robins in the Garden
By: Julie Day
There is the sweetest nest of baby robins in a young tree near my house! The three babies are so fat, it’s a wonder they all fit in there, and the mom and dad robins cut such a fit when I walk over, you’d think I was Godzilla. These parents are amazing – they spent literally all day on the search for food for their babies, bringing back softened bits of worm, insect, fruit, and other garden yummies to drop into the eager beaks of their growing brood.
Robins are great fun in the garden – they are common throughout North America, although tropical regions might see them head north with the snowbirds for the summer. They are easy to identify with their red breast and underbelly. They are the true “early birds,” hopping around and feasting on fat worms on dewy mornings. And most fun of all, robins are fond of nesting in low, sturdy places, which means that we can often find robins’ nests on porches, hanging planters, lights, and small ornamental trees.
Here are a few fast facts about American Robins:
- They are among the earliest nesting birds, staking out the best real estate in early spring, sometimes while trees are still bare.
- The female spends a week making her nest out of twigs, grasses, mud, and human scraps such as string and paper. The nests are softly lined with fresh grass.
- They tend to choose the same areas year after year, and since they can live anywhere from 6-15 years, you can expect some “regulars.”
- They can lay more than one clutch of eggs per season, with 3 or 4 eggs in each clutch.
- Robins’ eggs are, not surprisingly, “Robin’s Egg Blue.”
- For the first couple of weeks, feeding and protecting the babies is a full-time job for the parent robins. After they begin to leave the nest, the father continues feeding them for a couple more weeks while the mother gets ready for the next clutch of eggs.
- Robins can be harmed by pesticides (and they love to eat the pests!) so they’ll appreciate an organic garden.
- Since they don’t really eat bird seed, you can feed them apples, raisins and other dried or fresh fruits and berries on a flat feeder.
- Attract robins to your yard by adding a bird bath and nesting platform. Instructions for building a nesting platform can be found in Creating a Wild Backyard: American Robin by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.