Baby Pictures

This morning I grabbed my camera and snuck out to the front porch to take some pictures of the Robins nesting there. I think I was inspired by all the beautiful shots of hummingbirds, grosbeaks and goldfinches that Carol has posted on her blog   ( Even though the American Robin no longer migrates from the Northeast during winter, they do become more active in the spring and the sight of them making a nest full of  bright blue eggs is a sign that Spring is finally here.

Every year, a Robin couple has returned to our front porch to build its nest. I can’t blame them. From the outside, the perch is well-hidden by a climbing hydrangea and sheltered from wind and rain by the roof and lattice-work. On the inside it is quiet and safe from predators. Even the nosy humans don’t pose too much of a threat. The worst thing we do is tear down the nest every summer so they have to start fresh if they choose to come back.

I don’t know where they go after they are done brooding, but somehow they always return, year after year. I find it fascinating that somehow they have a homing device in their brains.

The mother did not like it when I took pictures of her on the nest, but she must not have felt too threatened because she flew off a few minutes later, giving me an opportunity to catch some shots of the babies.  They looked so small and helpless- tiny little beaks with patches of fluff covering their exposed freckled bellies.

It made me think about the responsibilities of the mother. How she sits on the nest to lay the eggs and keep them warm. Then she must fly off in search of food to bring to her young ones. When she determines they are big enough to fly, she must force them out of the nest to spread their wings and face the real world. Warding off foes, hunting for food, seeking shelter and finding a mate are the challenges that lie ahead for these fledglings.

How much support can the mother give them once they have left the nest? And for how long do they stick together? Maybe an ornithologist could tell me in more detail how a bird’s life and social structure parallels humans; but from what I have observed or read I can see the similarities. The biggest difference is the importance of family.

While the bird parents are protective of their young, once they are a few weeks old they lose that connection. Will this Robin mom be sad when her last baby flies away? Statistically, 25% of them don’t even make it past two weeks. At those odds, it is not worth attaching yourself to a young living being. You raise them, send them off and start over again. It’s called the life cycle, right?

Humans, on the other hand, never stop being parents once they have children. Even when the children have offspring of their own, the parents still are bonded to them. Thanks to the average American life span of 78.5 years, we have more time to nurture our children, form strong families and friendships and create multi-generational bonds. The ties to our family members give us confidence and support. Knowing that they will always have our back encourages us to try new things.

It seems a lot more reassuring to a mom to know that even as she gently prods her child out of the home and encourages him to “fly”, he can always call her on his cell phone or hop on a bus and come home.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Carol
    May 10, 2012 @ 12:09:25

    Perhaps if we had to find a home, construct our nest, lay our eggs, then sit on them for three weeks or thereabouts, then feed those little critters by going out and collecting food (as opposed to opening a jar) every single year we would be a bit less nurturing too. But birds amaze me that they do this process so very well. My friend has a Robin’s nest in the pot on her porch with four eggs (we’re behind even there!) that I’ll be posting pictures of tomorrow. Love your photos!



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