Caturday: Meet the New Neighbors!

The entire universe in blog form
July 12 2014 9:30 AM

… And Robin Laid an Egg

I haven’t done a Caturday post in a while (do the kids these days still do that with their LOLing and I Can’t Even-ing?), so why not. We’ve had a blessed event at Chez BA and I love to share.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

On the corner of our garage, tucked away on an eave, there’s a bird’s nest. We think it was originally made by some house finches a few years back; they were the first ones we saw use it (and they do like our abode). Every year a mated pair uses it, then eventually flies away, either having successfully hatched chicks or not (we’re pretty sure other birds get the chicks, maybe even before they hatch—Nature, red in tooth and claw and all that).

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This year, a pair of robins took up residence (possibly the same pair that did so in 2012). It took a long time for them to do what birds and bees do, but eventually we found a piece of eggshell on the ground. Then, a couple of days later, we saw this:

robin
Holy miracle of childbirth, Batman!

All photos by Phil Plait

Yay! Ugly bugger, but not every baby can be cute.

There are at least three chicks that have hatched, and you can see two here:

robin_2chicks_590
You can just see the second chick next to the first.

And I know, in that first picture the chick doesn’t even look alive. But we’ve had some hot days here, and it was just resting (note the parent’s beak is open, which is one way birds keep cool; they also pant to expel hot air and keep their insides cooler). Just a few minutes before it was begging for food:

robin_chick_mouth_590
Feed me, Seymore!

That shot cracks me up. I just saw all three with their heads up and beaks open. Mom flew in and stuck her whole face down the throat of one, so it looks like they’re getting fed pretty well.

We also have a nest in another part of the eaves with swifts in it. Those are very territorial birds; whenever we leave the door they fly around making rapid high-pitched noises at us. They’re lovely, though, and eat bugs, which I’m all for. They’ve made our house their home before, too. They do poop a lot, though, so when they’re all done the nest will come down.

It’s kinda nice to help out the neighbors sometimes, but honestly, they need to clean up after themselves. I wish they had signed the HOA contract.

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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