Monday, May 11, 2009

A Not So Clever Nest

Starting more than a week ago, a pair of robins started raising a ruckus as I walked along the woodland trail to the pond. I looked about in the red maples and small beeches, but could not see a nest that I was sure was there. The robins were quite alarmed by Bella and me. They hopped about in the canopy, loudly calling peek, peek, peek and tuk, tuk, tuk, tuk, until we were out of sight.

On Saturday as I walked back from the pond through the woods, I looked about as the robins started their alarm calls, and there it was, just off the trail. A beautiful nest and in a clever spot.

The robins had chosen a ledge of sorts. A broken red maple, the trunk split at about eight feet, created a flat surface, with the split trunk overhanging to provide protection from rain. The robins built their nest under a lean-to. Granted the lean-to had no sides so wind and rain could be a nuisance.

When I discovered the nest, the female had already flushed, so I took the opportunity to get a closer look. Ah, four beautiful baby blue eggs. Such a perfect nest, with a view overlooking a small ravine.

The next morning Srini and I walked into the woods from the lower field so I could show him the nest. From a distance, with binoculars in hand, we could see the female incubating the eggs. Rather than disturb her on an unusually cool and quite windy morning, we retreated along a different path to the house.

Just before lunch I took Bella for another walk to the pond for her mid-day exercise. I wanted to get a few more pictures of the setting for the robin's nest so Bella and I entered the woods. I raised my bins to check the nest, but just as I did I sensed something was wrong. The day before I could see the broken branch hung up in the tree as soon as I entered the woods. I peered about thinking I wasn't close enough. I walked farther along the path until I could plainly see that something was amiss. I gave a small shout as I realized that the strong morning winds had shaken the broken trunk loose.

In its fall, the trunk had snapped further, kicking out another piece of wood, just at the level of the nest, essentially sweeping the nest off its platform.

The contents of nest were scattered about below and down into the little ravine. The eggs were smashed against the root of the red maple.

Robins are common and often have two to three broods per year. Being only May, this pair has plenty of time to re-nest. Still, I had hoped that this nest of eggs would hatch and fledge. I was set to write my blog about this nest, calling it "A Clever Nest" because I thought the location was very cool. I had to change the blog post title after nature set the story on a different path and offered up an unexpected ending.

Today, as I hung out the laundry, I noticed another robin, hovering about, giving a few tuks. Sure enough, there was another robin nest in the large, old crabapple tree that holds one end of the laundry line. This nest is well-protected from the elements. Maybe that is the clever nest - well-hidden, safe, and secure. Perhaps an excuse not to do laundry for as not to disturb mother robin.

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