What have YOU seen?

Hey, all of you Stearns Mill Pond denizens and users, what have YOU seen on the pond or brook? Contribute your info - what great sightings, what birds, what animals, what sad things, what changes (good and bad), what wonderful moments have there been? Let's share what we know and love about our pond.
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Friday, July 28, 2017


July 10, 2017, 7:09 AM.  The last robin leaves the nest.  Above is the final picture taken of this little guy, the "runt" of the nest.  Two of its siblings left in the middle of the afternoon the day before and number 3 left an hour before this picture was taken.  

The robins started nesting on top of the light on our porch around June 7th or so.  A pair nested on the other porch light several years back.  It is a safe place, safe from predators and weather.  (Other robins around our house haven't fared as well: last year the nest was in the dogwood tree and blew out in a storm.  A few years before that, there was one in the bush next to the porch and the nestling and unhatched egg got eaten.)  This nest was as safe as possible.

**The following pictures are not the best quality, because the porch is covered and shady and I didn't want to use flash in the nestlings eyes.  Also, many were taken standing wobbling on a stool, holding my iPhone above my head!**

June 13, three eggs in the nest:                        June 14, four eggs in the nest!

Mama incubating the eggs.

Incubation happens for about 12-14 days for the robins, so we anticipated the hatching could begin as early as June 23.  Meanwhile, the parents got used to us being on the porch, as we always spend time every morning watching the world go by from our perch on the porch!  Papa yelled at us sometimes, but usually mama would stay on the nest when we came out.

As predicted, the eggs started hatching on June 24, 13 days from the last egg laid.  Three of them hatched that first day!

June 25, in the morning
The egg shells had been removed and 
there was one egg left, still unhatched.

By afternoon on June 25, there were four hungry nestlings!  
Little blobs of protoplasm...  
(After this pictures, I stopped using flash picture for fear of injuring their eyes.)

June 26 the blobs of protoplasm seemed to be all eyes and beaks!

June 27
I tried shining a light above the nest, but decided that probably wasn't a good idea, either.  We'll just have to live with the dark pictures.  I don't want to upset the parents (who were being very good about me around the nest!). At this point, we weren't sure if we had three or four nestlings.  
We were concerned about the survival of number four. 

Noontime on June 28th
Big changes from the day before. Notice the beginnings of feather shafts on the "wings".  In a few days, feathers would grow out of the shafts.  These birds have to be ready to "fly" and leave the nest in 10 days!

June 29 
The changes seem to happen rapidly.  But, we still don't know if there are three or four birds in the nest.  Hard to separate them out.

Three?  Four?  Still mostly eyes and beaks.  Feathers obvious down each bird's back, and more down on their heads. (June 29)

June 30

Papa isn't sure about my presence...


July 1
Morning: eyes still closed.  Getting bigger!

Getting more downy.  Look closely and you can see a slit in the eyelid. 
This is an afternoon shot on July 1; they seem bigger than in the morning.

July 2 (AM)
Four hungry mouths

Eyes open and wing feathers on the lower left nestling!  
Sure are ugly!  

"The Mouth"

 Look at that wing!  (No clue which bird is attached to it!)

July 3
 Crowded nest...

July 5
Big change in two days.  Look at that wing!!

They are starting to look like birds.
 And getting big! But they have to be ready to fledge in four days!

July 5, around noon
Much more movement and restlessness.

Notice that there is still a lot of bare, red skin, 
even though we are seeing more feathers

At rest
 Amazing that they can still fit into this nest.

July 6
The middle bird is the first hatched (I think).  Notice how different it looks
compared to the left bird (who is probably the last hatched).
The bird on the right has its eyes closed.

July 7
When a parent arrives with food, s/he stands on the edge of the nest, feeds one bird, then waits for that bird to offer its rear end and expel a fecal sac. (Instead of making a mess all over the nest, the nestlings' excrement is contained in a small white "fecal sac".  A lot easier than diapers...)  The parent bird takes the fecal sac and either eats it, or drops it somewhere away from the nest (probably on our cars).  

In the sequence below we see the parent bird arriving and in the second shot waiting (the nestlings are calm as they know there is no more food right now).  In the third picture, the parent is taking the fecal sac and the fourth shows the nestling's anus returning to normal.

July 8
Food is coming!

Who gets the worm??  Look at those spotted breasts!

Sorry!  All gone.

The Big Guy is getting ready to leave the nest!

July 9
Morning: Parents visit nest.  They have been doing a lot of encouragement from the railing or the top of the ladder (which is why we put it there - there are no branches available at this nest site!)

This one has been restless and seems ready to go...

"Go away and leave me alone!!!!!"

We did... later that afternoon, Linda had been on the porch watching, came in and 10 minutes later I went out.  In that 10 minutes two of them flew and only these two were left in the nest!

A parent on the railing

Number 3 is getting ready to go, but it won't happen until tomorrow

July 10
We came out onto the porch early in the morning and the two remaining nestlings were restless.  We sat down, turned to look at the nest, when suddenly a blur of feathers flew past us, yelling all the way.  We thought it was a parent bird, perhaps annoyed that we were there, but no, it was number 3!!!
We have always read that the robins tend to jump out of the nest and glide to the ground, but not this little show-off!  It was like it was yelling, 
"Look at me!  Look at me!!  I'm flying!!!"

Now there is only one left.  It took another hour for this one to get up the courage to go, and when it did, it was a jump and glide descent to the bushes.

We had hoped that we would see the parents and fledglings looking for bugs and worms in the yard, but we never did.

The nesting process is messy, but fun to watch!!

It was funny, for the next few days, every time we went out onto the porch, we were looking to see if the babies were there.  Empty nest syndrome, I guess.

I have some great video clips of the last day, but haven't had time to edit them  into a decent video, but when I do, I will post that in a separate posting.

Happy birding!