The Little Stowaway

The little stowaway

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If you have been following us on Facebook, you know about our little stowaway, the mama robin, that has (literally) made her home under our living room slide out.  We have been keeping track of her daily activities and wanted to have a central location that bird enthusiasts, fellow full time RVers, or really anyone could go to for daily updates!  If you haven’t already, please subscribe to our WEBSITE and/or FACEBOOK PAGE for journal/video updates!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The last fledgling flew the coop Sunday, July 10th.  Our last glimpse of the chick was the night before as he/she laid in the nest alone, trying to keep warm.

We waited a couple of days to take down the nest. Levi situated it in a tree just a few yards away, a shelter for a birdie in need.

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We have since seen what we assume are our birds fluttering around nearby campers.  Today, as we were sitting around the campfire cooking dinner, we spotted two baby robins, both were sitting in a tree across from us and then one flew closer and perched itself on a stump.  It was only a few seconds before they both fluttered off.  Some of our work camper neighbors have spotted the little guys here and there, swooping about the lots.

Being able to witness robins transform from eggs to fully formed birds leaving the nest has been quite an amazing experience and one we will not soon forget. It is nice to know that our home on wheels could be a shelter for other creatures, as well.  We wish our little stowaways the best of luck and happy trails! (Cue Rockin’ Robin song.)

Levi has been having a bit of fun with our bird situation and created a fun print that we have incorporated into a number of products sold in the RV Store through Cafe Press. What do you think?

odd couple bird 1

Friday, July 8, 2016

The chicks are becoming full fledglings…eyes wide open and wings expanding as they stumble over one another in the nest.  Mom continues to bring by creepy crawlies for nourishment and keeps her babes and nest tidy (carrying away or eating their waste sacs).  Our mama robin has stopped sitting atop her brood and who could blame her; there is hardly room for the chicks, let alone Mom as she quickly perches along one side of the nest to feed and then flies off.  She is never to far away, always protective and vigilant. The chicks keep each other warm throughout the day and night, huddled together.

We just recently noticed the size of the brood shrink today, however. Where four baby robins once squished together, now only sit three.  We suspect that the robins are starting their new adventure, outside the nest.  They will be learning how to fly and until they do, they enter a sort of survival mode outside their home,vulnerable to predators.  According to studies, half of a brood will live and thrive beyond this stage.  We have more confidence in our robin family; they have the genetic make-up of a stealth, independent, strong, hard working mother!

Although this is an exciting and courageous journey for our stowaways, we feel a slight (and ever growing) sadness to see them leave. At the same token, we feel very lucky to have provided a temporary home for a beautiful American Robin and to have witnessed the swift growth and progress of her rather rambunctious offspring!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Our robin family never ceases to amaze us!! Each day we log into our webcam, we are bombarded with new images of growing bodies with fuzz and miniature feathers, sounds of chirps, and insects of all sizes being thrust into ever widening beaks!  Our mother robin is ever persistent, returning back to the nest every few minutes with mouthfuls of bugs.  Not to appetizing to see on our end, but mouthwatering meals to eager chicks.

Every now and then we will see Mama Robin nestle atop her brood, attempting to find a comfortable position, only to have a head or butt poke out.  They are so squirmy and curious!  At one point, I mentioned to Levi about the neatness of the nest.  You would think that it would be a complete mess with the chicks consuming such large quantities of protein.   Where does the waste go?

Further research and webcam observations soon revealed the answer.  Almost immediately after eating, baby robins will produce a white sac of waste (fecal sac). The parent will either dispense it away from the nest or digest it (as we have observed on a number of occasions with our mother–yucky!).  The sacs are extra nutrition for the parents.  Keeping the nest clean also means eliminating odor which minimizes the likelihood that the nest will draw attention to predators.

As the days pass, the chicks become fuller and stronger.  They appear to have better control over body parts, stronger necks and dexterity of limbs.   Their eyes are beginning to open, barely little slits now. It is only a matter of time that they will become fledglings, bounding and fluttering out of the nest…..(sigh)….


Sunday, June 26, 2016

This journal entry is loooonnnggg overdue…so for all of our Mama Robin watchers out there, we do apologize for the late entry.  Much has happened over this week.  We were doing our best to keep out of our robin’s line of vision during her incubation period and watching her happenings via webcam.  She was so meticulous about rotating the eggs, keeping them warm with her body heat, and staying close by if venturing away (for one reason or another) from the nest.  We never saw a second robin, the male robin, hanging around, helping out. Seems like we have a single mommy doing the work for two.

We’d log onto the web cam a couple times a day just to glimpse any signs of egg movement or new behaviors from Mom.  Nothing out of the ordinary…..until Saturday evening. Our Hotspot was goofing up a bit on Thursday and Friday, so we were unable to get our daily dose of robin.  It was Saturday evening, after work, when we were once again able to connect.  I was watching our robin move restlessly in her nest for a minute or two.  I assumed she was trying to find a comfortable position atop the eggs, but she wouldn’t settle.  A minute later she was up and perched on the side of the nest, revealing two light pink babies huddled together!

What?! We missed the first two egg hatches?!?  We did feel a bit disappointed in this missed opportunity, but couldn’t stop staring at our screen as we watched a busy mama feed her newborns with all sorts of creepy crawlers.  She would fly away and within minutes fly back with caterpillars, moths, or worms in her pointy beak and then proceed to shove the meal into a mouth or two.  This happened in a rather routine manner.  We were getting tired watching our robin race back and forth with newly captured food and then take a break to settle atop her young to keep them warm.

We were determined to see the third and fourth egg hatch, this wasn’t going to slip by us, too. Fast forward to the next morning, this morning at around 7:00 AM (Eastern).  After my alarm sounded, I reached for the smart phone and logged into our Belkin NetCam, only to find THREE newborns and one egg.  The third chick must have hatched overnight and the egg shell had already been carried off by our robin!  She is quick to clean up and quick to feed!  She means business!

We were feeling a bit discouraged…our mama robin was rather stealth in her nesting cycle. We had predicted, based on our research, that incubation would last over two weeks and each egg would take a day to hatch.  This was not so because by lunch time today, Levi found our robin in the midst of four chicks.  All four are out; no sign of the shells!  What we have been able to record are moments of Mom feeding open mouths, pink bodies (eyes unable to open quite yet) huddled together when mother is away foraging for food, and intermissions of our robin sitting in the nest, warming the babes.

Take a look for yourself…

 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Mama Robin has been pretty diligent about keeping her eggs warm.  Every once in awhile she will fly off for a few minutes and then return back to the nest, plant her body on top of the eggs, and watch the world go by.  Throughout the day she will rotate and move  the eggs with her beak, circle around and face various directions (presumably adjusting herself for comfort), and keep watch (always vigilant for outside danger).

I sent a message to Bird Watching Magazine via Facebook and told them about our little stowaway.   They replied back with very helpful advice (especially during this rather vulnerable period of the nesting cycle):

“Please do your best to draw no attention to the nest or disturb its occupants. Predators may learn from your actions.”

We are observing our stowaway via webcam now and taking measures to not venture around the RV to the living room slide out unless we absolutely need to empty our tanks.  In that situation, we make sure the robin is not in her nest and the coast is clear.



Thursday, June 16, 2016

Our mother robin has been staying put snuggled in her nest. I noticed her laying in her nest as I passed by the slide out on my way to the campground office this morning.  Levi logged into the webcam in the middle of his work day (when he came back to the rig for lunch) and caught her rotating her eggs with her beak.

She has flown out of her nest a few times, but returns within minutes to commence her sit. Otherwise, she hasn’t moved much.  After work today Levi made an executive decision and moved the camera right over the nest.  He unhooked the stand and used copious amounts of duct tape to secure the webcam.

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We don’t want to keep adjusting the webcam and stressing out our robin, so we figured sooner than later is best. We are now set to view eggs hatch!

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The camera does not appear to hinder our robin’s flight in and out of the slide out underbelly and she has plenty of room nestled under the lens.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

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There are now four eggs in the nest!  The robin has barely moved from her nestled spot in front of the webcam and the few times she has flown away, she has returned in minutes.  We are assuming that the incubation period has begun!

If that is the case, we will be seeing ALOT of mom and possibly some sightings of dad. The male is known to patrol the territory and supply the mother-to-be with her earthworm cravings. One never knows, though.  We may have an independent woman under our slide out and she could go out hunting herself.

A few more fun facts:

  • During the incubation stage, the robin will rotate her eggs to keep the proper, consistent warmth.  
  • Their body temperature can reach 104 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer! (That’s a serious fever, if you ask me!)

Levi has been having a bit of fun with our bird situation and created a fun print that we have incorporated into a number of products sold in the RV Store through Cafe Press. What do you think?

odd couple bird 1

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

We are off today and tomorrow, our weekend before starting work once more on Thursday. Levi and I decided to go on a little road trip to Traverse City.  Before we left, however, we peeked around the corner of the RV to see if Mama Robin was laying in her nest.  She was not and I quickly took another snapshot of the nest…..three beautiful blue eggs.  This mom is busy!

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One little…two little…three little eggs

 

We have been doing some research on American Robins and their habits.  Here are a few tidbits we have picked up in our reading:

  • Robins are known for their prominent red chests.  The bulk of the body has shades of grey.
  • It is difficult to tell the difference between a male and female robin. However, males have brighter, bolder colors.  Females may appear dirty (more so during the nesting period) as their job typically entails molding the nest with mud.
  • Robins can lay anywhere from 3 to 7 light blue eggs.  They lay one egg a day.
  • Robins lay their eggs mid-morning, after hunting for worms. They love earthworms, like I love chocolate!
  • Incubation lasts up to two weeks and the fledglings are ready to take flight after two weeks.

An American Robin in all his glory.

We are working at Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping till mid-September, so we will be able to (hopefully) witness the entire nesting cycle!  Once it is complete, we will remove the nest from our slide out.  Apparently, there have been some cases where robins build nests atop previous nests. Yikes!

 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

We worked in the campground today.  I was in the office taking reservations via phone and checking campers into the park.  Levi was with the housekeeping crew, preparing the cabins for new arrivals.  While we were busy at work, our mystery bird (which we are told is probably a robin by our co-workers that are native to the area) was busy laying more eggs.  We came back to the RV this evening to find two eggs in the nest!  It feels like Christmas!

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Am I seeing double?

 

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