By Madis Senner
For the last few years a pair of robins has been nesting in my yard. While that’s not unusual, the fact that they have been doing so in the same place is; above the floodlight in the patio of my backyard.
I don’t believe that it’s the same pair of robins, but are most likely from an extended brood. In other words, descendants from that first pair and their descendants who also nested above my floodlight keep coming back. That said robins can live to be fourteen years old. Although the mortality rate is high. Cornell estimates that only forty percent of nesting birds produce young robins and that the population of robins turns over every six years. (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Robin/overview)
The robins usually come in May. But last year they came late in June. When they had not arrived by Memorial Day I thought that the trend was broken. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) says that robin’s nest from March to July in upstate New York and have two, to three broods. (https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/wildlife_pdf/brddate.pdf )
Back in 2016 there were pairs of robins nested in both my front and back yards at the same time. The nest in the front yard was above the light on my front steps. When I realized that robins had made their nest there I left them alone. The only disturbance was a daily visit by the mailman.
The most challenging time is the nestling period when the chicks have hatched and have not left the nest. I have two dogs and am always concerned that they may harm the young robins that have left the nest and still can’t fly and are wandering around the yard. So I always check the yard first before I let them out during the nestling period. There is also the concern that a neighbors’ cat may get to them.
Two years ago the young robin’s bolted quickly. One jumped out way too soon and I put it back. The next day the robin left again. Within a day the others were gone as well. One year a robin stayed in the nest and seemed not interested in leaving. But then I guess hunger got to the robin.
Robins are loved around the world and there are many tales associated with them. One holds that the robin’s redbreast comes from the blood of Jesus whom a robin visited while he was dying on the cross. Several drops of blood from Jesus’ crown fell upon the robin’s breast and no matter how hard the robin tried to wash it off it never could. (https://strangeago.com/2017/07/05/10-strange-beliefs-superstitions-robins/)
I regret that I did not take more pictures of the robins over the years. I have kept a few of the nests. I take a nest down not long after the robins have left. Sadly nests often contain the accouterments of our modern society such as pieces of plastic.
Patterns and habits are a funny thing. Most of us look forward to seeing robins in the spring thinking that spring has sprung. To me it is wondering if a pair of robins will return and nest above the flood light in patio. Some may think that some sort of imprint or memory lingers above the floodlight in patio, or a young robin’s memory of nesting there is behind this phenomenon. All I know is that the robins are back.
Madis Senner is an author who lives in Syracuse. You can read his musings at motherearthprayers.blogspot.com. His latest book is Sacred Sites in North Star Country: Places in Greater New York State (PA,OH,NJ,CT,MA,VT,ONT) That Changed the World. It is available at Books, ETC. in Macedon (facebook.com/booksetcmacedon).