Our baby robins have hatched. I can’t tell you how many there are. There were only two eggs the last time I looked and now there is just movement in a pile of grayish fluff. There aren’t too many opportunities to take a peek as the mother is almost constantly in attendance. Don’t want to spook her, you know, or they tell me she won’t come back.

When we had baby rabbits, the mother would line her nest with fur from her belly. I understand that the eider duck lines her nest with down plucked from her breast, and that eider down is harvested from the nests when the ducklings leave. But, from what I read, robin nests are lined with very fine grasses (though there was mention of one robin that persisted in taking fur from a Golden Retriever) and the fluff mentioned above is the down that the baby birds are covered with at first.

Sometimes there are two parents feeding the babies, presumably the mother and father. Since mother and father aren’t politically correct terms anymore, perhaps I should call them Cock Robin and Hen Robin? Or parent XY and parent XX. How do you suppose the robin parents recognize each other? They all look the same to me–one robin face looks like another robin face. In the MARCH OF THE PENGUINS I learned that mates could recognize each other, that the mother penguin could always find her mate who was hatching her chick after she trekked miles to the water to bring back nourishment. It’s my guess that they know each other somehow by scent (pheromones) and song.

My research tells me that birds generally have small olfactory bulbs and very poor sense of smell. No bird pheromones have been discovered. However, birds have excellent eyesight and perhaps color vision plays a role in mating. We’re all familiar with Darwin’s discussion of the displays of the male bird (the peacock is the ultimate example) in order to woo the female bird. And birds have MARVELOUS hearing in spite of the fact that there are no visible external ears.

This bird-watching is raising a lot of questions. Is there a robin expert somewhere out there?

Next day:
My babies! They’re gone! The nest is EMPTY! Who — or what — has done this thing? The mother robin had so much invested — the nest, the eggs, the brooding, the feeding. Is she grieving as much as I am? It’s always so sad to see new, innocent life destroyed — the promise nipped in the bud. Will she have the heart to try again?

Is there a robin expert somewhere out there?