Wheatland Farm has several pairs of robins this year, including one nesting in Ian’s workshop opposite Otter Cottage. The female frequently comes to the front door expecting mealworms, and will feed from our hands.
Here’s where she has chosen to nest!
In more relaxed times, ie pre brooding period, the robin would hang out, frequently perching on people for tasty treats!
Robins only pair for the breeding season, which starts in March (though courtship can begin earlier in the year). A nest may have up to 6 eggs, depending on food availability for the female, who puts a lot of her reserves into laying the clutch. She then incubates for a couple of weeks, and then there’s a frantic fortnight of feeding chicks before they fledge.
Apparently, when they do leave the nest, they still can’t fly for a few days, so are fed on the ground by the parents. We’ll have to be extra careful when that happens. We will shut the workshop door to keep the neighbour’s cats out. Probably the biggest risk is people getting too close to the nest as the chicks grow and ‘exploding’ them out of the nest when they aren’t ready. Once big chicks leave the nest there’s not much chance of packing them back in, and although the adults are used to people, presumably the chicks will have their instinctive reactions in place. They tend to sit tight (and quiet) until the last moment, but if they feel really threatened they make a break for it and take their chances.
Robin chicks hang about and beg for food for a further three weeks after fledging, and then the parents have another go and start a new brood. We’re not sure whether they use the same nest – we’ll see how it goes! There’s plenty of other suitable accommodation for robins around Wheatland Farm, but if they like that shelf we’ll be delighted for them to stay on.
Right now, we think the robins have hatched. So we’re offering water-softened mealworms near the nest to save the parents work. We’ll keep you informed on this story!