A bird’s eye view

By Carol / April 27, 2013 /

We know it’s really spring when the robins start building nests. Every downspout around our house has a robin in residence. Until now it’s always been the downspouts. But this spring an enterprising mama is making her home on our bathroom window sill.

You can’t get a better view than this!

When I first spotted her, Mrs. Red Breast was still building the nest. Each time I went into the bathroom, she flew away. I wondered if she’d persist in this location. Would she be chased off the nest every time we used the facilities after she had her babies? Because, really, we aren’t going to stop using the bathroom!

When I told my husband, he said, “What do you think? Knock it down before she lays eggs?”

It must be said that robins make messy nests. Bits of twig and leaves dangle from the nest. The idea of bugs and bird droppings is not all that appealing. In some cases, I’d agree with him, but not this time. The opportunity to see a robin raise a nest of babies from a foot away is too good to pass up.

Mrs. Red Breast did finish her building. And then she began to lay eggs. One a day. Today she had these three.

This afternoon when I was working in the yard, I looked up and saw her nestled firmly in her home. Laying more eggs? Incubating the three she’s laid? Time will tell.

Have you ever enjoyed such a bird’s eye view of a nesting bird?

UPDATE: I’m sharing the progress on this nest. Here’s a link to the story on a fourth egg.

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  1. Barbara McDowell Whitt on April 28, 2013 at 6:30 am

    Carol, how fun! I predict she will lay one more egg. When I was a kindergarten teacher I had a pair of doves in a large cage at the back of the classroom. I saw them mating near the end of a school day, and then two eggs appeared in the nest they had. Both birds hatched on the Presidents Day weekend so we weren’t able to see that process. However, both babies grew to the size they needed to be when we found homes for them with two children from the class.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on April 28, 2013 at 10:32 am

      What a great experience for your students, Barbara! I hope my granddaughters can get out here to see nature in progress.

  2. Audra on April 28, 2013 at 9:35 am

    How cool! Do take pics as everything progresses.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on April 28, 2013 at 10:32 am

      I have my camera at the ready, Audra. Whenever she’s not on the nest, I peek in to see what’s happening.

  3. Sharon Lippincott on April 28, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Ours wasn’t quite this close and clear, but we had robins nest in a hemlock near a living room window. The room sits above the garage, giving a view from a little above eye level. Another year a robin nested in a miniature spruce right next to the front walk. Both were fun to watch. The front yard one was an inconvenience, because we began avoiding use of the front door for a couple of weeks until the eggs hatched and the mother was leaving the nest to feed the bitsy things.

    I think your husband will be glad you didn’t back down. You might try tacking a temporary cafe curtain across the window so you don’t spook her every time you go into the room. Also screen your eyes as you look. Even a round camera lens will send her flying away, probably leading the predator (an owl?) away from her babies. I look forward to pictures now and then.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on April 28, 2013 at 10:35 am

      We had a cardinal nest near our outdoor water faucet one summer. That was really problematic. Gradually, she got used to us and I’m hoping the robin will, too. I avoided making direct eye contact with her this morning while I showered and she stayed in place. It never occurred to me that her concern was that we were predators. Glad you pointed that out.

  4. Mary Gottschalk on April 28, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    Such luck. We have a nest just below our kitchen window, but in a place we can’t see it unless we climb up on the counter and crane our necks outside the window. Not something we are inspired to do on a daily basis, especially since it totally freaks out “mama.”


    • Carol Bodensteiner on April 28, 2013 at 6:28 pm

      And we wouldn’t want you to fall off the counter, either! Check in here from time to time. I’ll be posting updates. Not exactly an eagle cam, but …

  5. Agent Orange on April 28, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    Lucky you! I’ve never had such an up-close view of a bird’s nest, and I sure wish I did! BTW, I know a few things about robins — they’re very trusting, and I’m sure they will learn to stop fearing you, as long as you don’t stare at the nest or make other threatening moves. Also, they’re not only very cute, but also very beneficial — they eat bugs in huge numbers, so you need not fear that the nest will attract bugs, and in fact you might find that you’ll see LESS bugs this year than the year before!

    • Carol Bodensteiner on April 29, 2013 at 7:02 am

      I’m learning so much about interacting with robins! So far the list includes: don’t make direct eye contact, robins are trusting (someone even told me robins are one of the few birds that will eat out of your hand), and now bug control. Love it. Thanks!

  6. Kathleen Pooler on April 29, 2013 at 5:30 am

    Carol, I had to chuckle when I read this as we have a determined mother Robin who insists on making her nest on the top of our garage door motor, swooping in and out when we open the door. She hasn’t succeeded in laying her eggs there( as far as we can tell) but the nest is fully formed and ready. She must have tired of all the interruptions from us trying to get in and out of our home We did find another nest with eggs in the eaves of another building. I have to credit her with persistence and creative problem-solving! How sweet that you have a “bird’s eye” view of the nest and can live in peaceful co-existence!

    • Carol Bodensteiner on April 29, 2013 at 7:04 am

      The nesting instinct is STRONG! I hope a robin does not set her sights on our garage door opener. We won’t give up our shower or closing the garage door!

  7. Belinda Nicoll on April 29, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    That’s such a sweet story; now I want to know how it develops.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on April 29, 2013 at 2:14 pm

      Thanks, Belinda. I posted an update yesterday after the fourth egg appeared. I will begin linking these robin posts.

  8. Diane Stephenson on April 30, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    I love your story. I had a robin nesting in a cedar tree right next to my steps, but you the branches were thick enough that you couldn’t see much even though it was below eye level. Mama didn’t like it much when I went in and out of my door. It’s wonderful to be able to view nature up close and to be able to take photos, too. Photography is a hobby for me, especially outdoor, and I would love to be able to get close enough to a nest to get a close-up.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on May 1, 2013 at 7:39 am

      This robin has given me an unprecedented opportunity, Diane. Photography is also a hobby for me. I’m hindered by the screen, which I briefly considered taking down, but didn’t want to risk upsetting the bird and the nest. I understand robins will nest twice in a year, so after these eggs hatch and the babies fly off (keeping my fingers crossed all goes well on both fronts!), I may see about getting the screen out for round two.

  9. Kenneth Weene on May 6, 2013 at 10:57 am

    We had a robin family in our wisteria one year. Had to redirect traffic to the back door to minimize the disturbance for the birds. I wrote a short poem about them:

    In the wisteria
    by the kitchen
    there was a small nest
    with three blue eggs.
    We used the other door
    until they had flown
    leaving us bereft.
    Come another year
    the vine bloomed again;
    but they never came back
    with their cheer filled song
    and their orange breasts.

    Anyway, be aware that you will feel real loss when they leave.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on May 8, 2013 at 6:08 pm

      A lovely poem, Kenneth. Thank you for sharing it. If you read my other posts, you know “the rest of the story” about this nest and also know I’m watching another nest where the eggs have already hatched. There is a wistfulness to seeing your children leave the nest. Yes, loss, but also pride.

  10. Cheryl Gross w/a Cherie Denis on May 8, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    We seem to be extremely lucky. We have a weeping mulberry tree in our front yard. The brown thrush’s and mockingbirds love the tree because of all the tangled branches which twist and turn every which way. There are several nests in the tree, but we can’t get close because the mockingbirds are very protective.
    This afternoon there were 4 pair of yellow finches in our river birch right outside our dining room window. I hope they plan to stay. They are so beautiful.
    Our deck is very close to the river birch so we get to see all the little ones learn to fly – they are so enjoyable. I wish I could see into some of the nests, but no such luck.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on May 8, 2013 at 6:10 pm

      How lucky that you have the right nesting habitat – and the fierce guard dog mockingbirds! We have a finch feeder that is busy all year long but particularly beautiful when the finches (Iowa’s state bird!) turn their summer yellow. That feeder is situated so we can watch the birds every time we sit at our kitchen table. A moving delight!

  11. Pamela on May 11, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    How fun! We have one in a plant out front and my daughter has been taking pictures while we’re waiting for the eggs to hatch. I’d love to be able to look my window to watch it all.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on May 11, 2013 at 6:00 pm

      Though this windowsill nest didn’t pan out (see later posts), the one on the downspout is doing well. The view is not quit as good, but we’re enjoying watching the babies grow. Good luck with you nest!

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