Nesting Instincts

They’re back! The American Robins who were lucky enough to survive their fledgling stage have returned to their birth nest and started their own family. It amazes me to think that year after year, from generation to generation, this same line of robins has returned to the exact spot on my front porch and laid yet another brood of eggs.


At first we thought it was great to have them there; but then the parents became too protective and chirped shrill warnings at us to not sit on our porch and disturb their young. For a period of time we tried to take down the nest after they were gone, but it didn’t matter. They still came back and built a new one from scratch.  Now, years later, we have finally accepted the fact that this is where the robins need to be and have left their nest intact so they have less work to do upon their return.

It is that time of year again and the mom and dad are taking turns warming the eggs and keeping strangers away. I wonder what instincts they have that reassure them they are in a safe place. Do they recollect their own beginnings?  Do they associate this spot with comfort or security? And is that why they have come back to make their own nest? Whatever miracle of nature creates this pattern, year after year, certainly astounds me.

It also causes reflection on my own brood, one of whom is near fledgling stage. She has made her college plans and in September will leave the comfort zone of her own suburban nest and begin her adult life at Boston University, a much larger and busier environment than she is used to.

I am sure she will thrive in her new surrounds which will present her with all kinds of opportunities and interesting people. Yet how strong will her nesting instincts be? Will she see home as the place to come for a break from the bustle and stress of college life? Or will she be happy to be far away and on her own? Hopefully the answers to those questions are a little of each.


Like the robins, we want our kids to keep coming back for visits or breaks but then go out and be successful in their own life adventures.