Robin Nest Log 2021

Day 12 – Saturday 19/06/21

Weather : Warm, muggy and overcast with some heavy, thundery rain.

Notes : Some heavy, summer, thundery rain showers today did not seem to adversely affect the Robins in any way. They have continued with exactly the same pattern of the Female spending most of her time on the eggs in the nest with occasionally feeding visits from the Male.

The Female still leaves from time to time, and the end of the day image today was taken around 22:00 during one such absence. The six eggs are still present and correct.

Day 11 – Friday 18/06/21

Weather : Warm but overcast with rain showers.

Notes : No more eggs so it seems the clutch size will remain at 6, which is more than I anticipated. The female has been on the eggs for most of the day with only very occasional trips off.

The Male has again been coming in to feed the Female, something which seems to happen more in the early morning and less as the day goes on.

It is however very difficult to spot as the Male is in and out extremely quickly. I managed to capture one quite nice video of what looks like the Male Robin arriving with a beak full of food, just after the Female had left.

Missed her.

The nest box condition at the end of the day (22:30) is shown below, the Female asleep on the eggs.

Day 10 – Thursday 17/06/21

Weather : Warm but muggy day, storms brewing.

Notes : Yesterday, after the Robin started incubating I didn’t think that there would be any more eggs but this morning there was a sixth.

So we now have a big brood and the Female has been incubating and sitting on the nest for much of the day. She did leave occasionally, I guess for food but never for more than 20 minutes or so.

The other highlight of the day is that for the first time I’ve seen the Male Robin coming into feed the Female as she sits on the nest.

The nest box condition at the end of the day (22:30) is shown below.

Day 9 – Wednesday 16/06/21

Weather : Very warm sunny day.

Notes : The Robin nest is doing great, 5 eggs have been laid, the fifth arriving this morning with a first sighting at 08:30.

Today a significant change occurred and the Female Robin, instead of being absent from the nest all day, starting to incubate the eggs. This signifies that no more eggs will be laid, we have a clutch of 5. I’ve read that the incubation should last 13 days, so this would mean the first eggs hatching on the 29th June.

I’m really enjoying watching my first Robins nest and seeing how it’s so different from the Great Tits and Blue Tits I’ve previously watched. I’ve said before that everything is happening much quicker, from nest building to egg laying but it was also interesting the way the Robin has kept away from the nest, keeping it hidden.

All of this illustrates the different strategy of a Robin compared to a Great Tit. The Robin nest is much more vulnerable, because it’s open, hence the speed and secrecy. Why does it nest in the open, or in this case an open nest box? well there are many more places to build a nest if you’re not worried about finding a location with the right sized entrance hole. Because it’s vulnerable, they’re quick and have fewer eggs, with fewer mouths to feed the young will get biiger and be ready to leave the nest much quicker as well. This is why the Robin lays 3-5 eggs compared to 8-12 for a Great Tit.

And if it all goes wrong for the Robin and the nest is lost, as it hasn’t invested a lot of time, it can build another nest and raise another brood. A Robin typically has more broods than the 1 or 2 of the Great Tit which takes its time over its large brood, in its super secure, hole entry, nest site. All the eggs in one basket compared to the nesting guerilla tactics of the Robin.

Fantastic.

The nest box condition at the end of the day (22:00) is shown below, the first end-of-day shot with the incubating female present.

Day 8 – Tuesday 15/06/21

Weather : Warm sunny day.

Notes : The first view off the fourth egg was 07:30, before again the Robin stayed on the nest for another hour or so before heading off for the day.

So still the incubation has not started and perhaps there will be a fifth egg tomorrow.

I’ve been doing my best to avoid disturbing the nest or even really entering into the vicinity. I forgot to say though on Sunday I had to ask my neighbour to stop cutting back the ivy hedge which contains the nest. The box is well hidden and protected so I’m not sure it would have disturbed the nest but he’s a terribly nice bloke so stopped anyway.

The nest box condition at the end of the day (23:00) is shown below.

Day 7 – Monday 14/06/21

Weather : Warm sunny day.

Notes : The third egg arrived, this time at 08:15. Still remarkably consistent.

A slight change today however as the Robin then came back to the nest pretty much straight away and sat on the eggs. I thought that perhaps incubation had started, the clutch was completed at 3 eggs, but after around 30 minutes she left. So incubation hadn’t started and perhaps we’ll get at least one more egg.

The nest box condition at the end of the day (18:30) is shown below.

Day 6 – Sunday 13/06/21

Weather : Warm sunny day.

Notes : As predicted, but still good news, the second egg was laid this morning.

 The Robin is very regular in its movements. It arrives in the Nest between 07:30-08:00 in the morning and leaves after laying an egg, yesterday at 08:09 and today 08:21. Very consistent.

Apart from the egg laying moment the Robin is not visiting the nest, I’ve not even seen one in the vicinity. If it wasn’t for the camera in the nest box I would never know that a robin was building a nest and laying eggs. It’s staying well away to ensure that the location of the nest is maintained as secret as possible from potential predators.

It means that until they start incubating, when the female will need to be present in the nest, it is very difficult to spot an active Robin nest. Once the chicks have hatched and the adults are continually bringing in food the presence of the nest will become much more obvious. This will be the period of high risk when the nest is more likely to be predated.

The nest box condition at the end of the day (22:30) is shown below.

Day 5 – Saturday 12/06/21

Weather : Warm but overcast day.

Notes : The Robin again spent 30 minutes on the nest early this morning at 08:00, this time leaving a present, the first egg.

It’s normal for the Robins to lay their eggs early in the morning and as a typical clutch size is 3-5 eggs, each laid on a separate day, there should normally be additional eggs laid in the next days. Incubation will not start until all eggs are laid so that the first eggs do not develop much faster than the eggs laid last.

One point of surprise for me is that the egg appears to be white but Robin eggs are a light blue, as shown below. I think it must be blue but it is an effect of the camera and lighting making it look white.

The whole process is happening much faster than for the great tit nest I was watching last year. The Robin has laid it’s first egg only 4 days after it started to build the nest, by comparison the great tit laid it’s first egg 15 days after starting to build the nest.

It’s all happening much quicker in the world of the Robin.

The nest box condition at the end of the day (18:30) is shown below.

Day 4 – Friday 11/06/21

Weather : Warm sunny day.

Notes : A few visits to the nest today by the Robin. An especially long visit this morning around 08:00 when it stayed in the nest for around 30 minutes. No real changes to the nest, no additional nest building needed.

The nest box condition at the end of the day (18:30) is shown below.

Day 3 – Thursday 10/06/21

Weather : Warm sunny day.

Notes : The nest building seems to be completed and the Robin has spent less time in the nest today. It has been visiting occasionally throughout the day, each time spending a few minutes in the nest, nuzzling into the nest cup.

During this stage the adults Robins are possible still feeding the previous brood of chicks who, although out of the nest will still be dependent on the parents. The female prepares the next nest, my nest, whilst the male keeps feeding the chicks. When the last brood of chicks are finally independent, they should get on with egg laying in the new nest. I haven’t seen any Robins feeding other chicks in the immediate vicinity, although they may well be in a neighbours garden, out of my sight.

The nest box condition at the end of the day (18:45) is shown below.

Day 2 – Wednesday 09/06/21

Weather : Warm sunny day.

Notes : It’s definitely a Robin building the nest and it was up early and active this morning. It restarted nest building at 06:30 and continued throughout the day, although there were a few gaps where I wondered and hesitated if it was going to come back.

This morning I turned the LED lights on to provide better quality, colour images. I hesitated before doing so as I didn’t want to disturb the bird or put it off in any way, but it didn’t appear to be affected.

I now already have hours of footage such as this of the Robin bringing in nest material.

The nest is located behind a Pine bush and I think a lot of the material coming in, especially at the bottom of the nest are fallen pine needles, so quite coarse. I can however also see some softer moss appearing at the top.

The rather remarkable point is the speed with which the nest has been built. This is day 2 and already it looks complete. My only previous experience of watching nest building so closely was great tits, and for them it took a week to 10 days to construct a nest.

I guess this may be because Robins nest multiple times throughout the Summer and therefore build multiple nests. A great tit pair will probably only nest once, maybe at the maximum twice, but generally speaking they can spend more time over their one precious nest. The Robin, and the nest building is the responsibility of the female, is working to a different time scale.

Over the next days I need to be very careful as they are quite sensitive and may abandon the nest if disturbed. It is quite close to my garage entrance so I’ll be doing my best to give it a wide birth until they are well established.

The nest box condition at the end of the day (18:30) is shown below.

Day 1 – Tuesday 08/06/21

Weather : Warm sunny day.

Notes : I had pretty much given up hope of having a bird nest in one of my boxes this year. Certainly the Great Tit/Blue Tit box, for the first year ever had no occupants and I was sure that it was now too late in the year for these birds that normally only have one brood.

I have drawn a blank again this year with my Swift nest box, although there are plenty of swifts around. As for the open fronted ‘Robin Nest box’, I had tried a new location this year, all wired up with a camera but I had seen no signs of interest. As I also understood that it is a little more difficult to get Robins to use a prepared box, they are quite happy nesting in natural environments.

But, but, but. Never give up hope. I had my cameras off all day and when I turned them back on this evening a nest had started in my ‘Robin Nest Box’. I was very happy indeed.

Just to illustrate the point this morning at 08:00 the box was empty.

Apologies for the low-quality image but I had also turned off the LED lights as I didn’t think that there would be any need.

But by the end of the nest was quite well advanced, something had been busy. I haven’t yet seen the bird but I assume it’s a Robin. It is not impossible that it could be a Dunnock for example, but it is much more likely to be a Robin

The nest box condition at the end of the day (22:00) is shown below.

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