Thursday, May 24, 2012

The birds are back

Last year we had robins build a nest in the clematis vine on the front porch. For awhile I thought they might reuse the nest this year, but they appear to have decided to make a fresh start. They're building a nest over a drainpipe on the BACK porch this year.

I saw the first move on Tuesday afternoon - a robin so heavily laden with long strands of dry grass he couldn't stay airborne. He missed his target, landed on the deck rail, then made a second attempt and got to the correct spot. By evening, there were a few strands of grass and twigs balanced up there.

The next day, both birds began a day of furious construction. By the afternoon, the supporting structure was in place:

I noticed that both the male and female shared this job of bringing the heavy materials, but once that was over, there was a division of labour. Then the female started bringing beakfuls of mud to plaster the nest, and the male took over guard duty. They were both very alert any time I peeked through the window to watch them, but the male would actually hop around nearby when I was outside. I don't know if he seriously planned to attack me if I got too close, but he was very vigilant.

A few weeks ago, the lady who writes the bird column in the Sunday Citizen wrote about robins, and said that when they're in this nesting phase, the males are very aggressive and territorial. And when they catch a glimpse of their own reflection in a window, they get very bossy and try to fight it off! This male robin was doing that all day yesterday: he'd flutter up and down the glass trying to drive off the "rival" robin encroaching on his territory. Or else he'd plant himself right on the sill and hop back and forth, staring down his enemy. It didn't matter what I did, he could still see himself in the glass and would not give up. The bird lady said that this is a phase they go through, and once the eggs come and the work of finding food starts up, they forget about chasing phantom intruders.

Today the nest looks nearly finished. I snuck out there last night with scissors and trimmed off the longest dangling pieces of grass, because they were hanging down so low, I was afraid James might notice and try yanking on it.

I'll try to grab a picture of the nest with one of the birds actually IN it, but I don't want to spook them.

UPDATE: This isn't my video, but it shows what she was doing today, treading down the interior to make it nice and smooth:

What's funny is that the MALE robin now figures "There. It's done. Now, let's have a little fun!" and started chasing the female while she was still bringing beakfuls of grass to put the finishing touches on! Typical. "Come on, that's good enough!" "No, it's not perfect. Leave me alone!"


Blogger Priscilla said...

I guess she has trained him right!

Yesterday I had a beautiful oriole visit my porch and I enjoyed his beautiful song.

9:37 am  

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