Although the six Robin chicks fledged the nest last Monday it was just the start of a very difficult time for them. Once out of the nest they can’t fly and are dependent on the adults for food.
In the case of my brood the problems started straight away as last Tuesday here was a day of non-stop heavy rain. So keeping warm, dry and fed was particularly challenging. The chicks spent the two days after fledging in the immediate vicinity of the nest box and I’m afraid to say that their presence was noticed by my cats, who suddenly became very interested in the area. At one point I intervened as the cat had one of the chicks in its’ mouth. It was still flapping around and moved it onto higher, and safer ground, but I rather fear it was damaged.
I tried spraying the ground with cat deterrent but this wasn’t very successful so I ended up keeping my cats indoors for a couple of days. I also did my best to avoid the area so as not to unduly stress the birds.
The chicks are really well camouflaged and they were still pretty silent during these first days so as not to attract attention to themselves. The adults though were very vocal. As soon as any threat was spotted they started to call very loudly, I don’t know if this was to alert the chicks or to attract attention of the threat away from the chicks. I guess a mixture of both, but this must be a very draining activity for the adults, who already have a lot on their plate to feed all the different chicks which are now in different locations.
During the rain of Tuesday, one day after fledging I found one of the chicks on the ground, trying to shelter from the rain by my bins.
This seemed to be quite a weak individual, maybe the one which had already been taken by the cat.
The sixth and last chick of the brood hatched one day later than the first five but fledged on the same day. I can therefore imagine that this last chick would have been smaller and weaker than the others and although it made it out of the nest it would surely have been the most vulnerable.
By the end of Tuesday, the day after fledging I had found a dead chick not far from where I photographer the sheltering chick. I don’t know if it was the same but I would guess so.
By the end of the day on Wednesday I stopped hearing and seeing the adults in the vicinity so I think they and the five remaining chicks had managed to move off, hopefully to a more secure environment. The chicks can typically fly, although I guess quite unsteadily, after two days but they will still be dependent on the adults for feeding for several weeks yet. They will still be very vulnerable.
Unfortunately life is tough and the mortality rate of young Robins is huge, only around 25% will live for more than one year. Those that survive the immediate threats, and obviously at least one of my brood immediately succumbed, will then still need to make it through the Winter.
Good luck to each of them.
The nest has remained untouched and empty since fledging. I think that it is now late in the year for another brood but I’ll leave it in place for a while before taking it down for a clean before the Winter. Removing the lice and bugs hiding in the nesting material should make the box a much more attractive nesting proposition, but I would want it back up and in position for the start of December.
Will the Robins use the nest box again? I hope so. I’ve read that only around 57% of robin eggs make it to fledged chicks and in my case this figure was 100%. Despite the cats it did proof a winning location for a nest, hopefully they remember this for next year.