American Robin building nest

Nest Bound - ©ingridtaylar

This Robin was building a nest, low in a trellis at a public park. I kept my distance while shooting this image, but kept wishing she would reconsider the positioning of the nest.

We’ve had American Robins nest just over our doorway. They’ll build around rain spouts and in flower pots, close to human structures and entry points. But this trellis was in the middle of a busy picnic ground — overrun on weekends by families and children. It would be within easy arm’s reach for anyone who noticed it. She was building on a Thursday, probably oblivious to the human influx that would occur two days later. My hope is that she reconsidered after spending a Saturday in the park.

I say she, because female Robins do the bulk of the nest building. Males contribute, so this could have been the male. The two are very similar in coloration. The red breast color on the mate of this bird was a bit brighter, making me think she was, indeed, a she.

Robins are berry eaters. You’ll sometimes see American Robins interspersed with Cedar Waxwings, as the entire mixed flock strips berries from Pyracantha trees. Robins also supplement their diet with insects and worms, their eyes turned toward subtle movements in the grass. Their song is melodic, wistful. (Click the link to hear variations.)

I’ve been hearing a Robin launching into song much earlier than usual. At first I thought it was a Mockingbird — a bird that will sing early and late — and a bird that used to serenade us in our Los Angeles digs on summer nights.

But it’s clearly a Robin and in the course of my research, I came upon this 2006 piece from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The article cites a study that found Robins will sing earlier in response to artificial light:

. . . human-created light radiating from populous cities and spacious suburbs not only hides the stars, but also appears to initiate bird song. In fact, the robins he studied started singing up to three hours earlier than expected.

We’re not on a particularly bright street, but anywhere near cities we’re dealing with that ambient light. It seems our local Robins are getting a bit less sleep these days.

The Photo: This was shot with my Olympus E-3 and Zuiko 70-300mm lens. The pink background is the bokeh created by a barn in the distance behind this Robin. I always keep my distance from nesting birds or birds with babies, use my telephoto, and in this case, snapped just a couple of quick frames before moving on.