Robin Watching 2017

By Patti Muzny

Robins – they seem to be everywhere and maybe most people don’t devote much time and energy to watching them. I love Robins, even when I’m birding somewhere high in the mountains and am hoping to spot a thrush or other high country bird and I find I’ve been stalking a Robin. It’s a good thing we love Robins at our south Oklahoma City yard, because this spring our patio, carport and two downspouts have been chosen as nesting sites.

Last spring, a pair of Robins built their nest above the door from our patio into the kitchen. Those who came to the OKC Audubon picnic saw the nest. Another pair also built on the ledge above my sewing room window under the patio. This year, the kitchen door location was again hosting a Robin nest. The first attempts consisted of long sections of dead Bermuda grass that was deposited on the ledge on a windy day. Most of the grass ended up on the patio and the birds didn’t pick up what was blown off. Many trips were made out into the yard with the same disastrous results. Even though there might only be 3-4 little pieces of grass, the female Robin would hop onto the ledge and back up into the corner and flutter, as if measuring how her nest would look – eventually.

We had not had rain and our yard held no mud, so I hooked up the hose and made some mud for them. Within minutes, that unwavering Robin flew down to the muddy spot, grabbed a beak full of grass and mud and proceeded to get very serious about completing her nest. At the end of that day, a beautifully shaped mud and grass nest was completed. The more unusual thing she did was
use dead pieces of chives in her nest, so pieces of vegetation over a foot long dangled over the edge at the bottom of the nest. The Robins were accustomed to our activity on the patio and in the yard, so I was able to spend more than a few hours watching her build the nest and feed her ravenous family of four. She was a great housekeeper and nearly every time she poked an offering down those begging babies, she would tilt her head and peer down into the nest, waiting for one of her offspring to pass its fecal sack. Sometimes she would fly off and drop it in the yard and sometimes she would eat it.

One Sunday morning I noticed all four almost-fledglings were acting quite daring as they perched on the edge of the nest and exercised their wings. We left town before noon and when we returned that evening the nest was empty and the patio below the nest was purple with mulberry-enhanced bird droppings. While the first pair was raising their young, a second pair built a nest under the patio on the other side. They only raised one offspring. A third pair currently has 4 eggs in their nest under the carport. Pair #4 put a nest on a downspout on the south side of the house and Pair #5 has their nest on a downspout on the north side of the house.

As I was loafing on the patio one morning, a pair of Bewick’s Wrens landed nearly on my feet, which were propped up on the patio table, and proceeded to tell me everything I did to offend them. After a thorough scolding, through which I had a difficult time not giggling, they both flew off and didn’t come back. We also have Collared Doves nesting in one of the pines, and one day there were seven White-winged Doves at the feeder, along with Downy Woodpeckers, Blue Jays, Cowbirds, House Sparrows, Starlings, Mourning Doves, Tufted Titmice, Chickadees, House Finches, Carolina Wrens, Brown Thrashers nesting in a shrub, and a Mockingbird nesting in the corner of the back yard. The Martins come and go, but won’t stay at the newer house we put up this year. Flyovers include, night herons, egrets, Mississippi Kites, geese and ducks, Crows, one Fish Crow, Cooper’s Hawk, and a Turkey Vulture.