June 25, 2021

A Robin’s Nest in the Small Oak Tree

By: Sharon Bazant

A Robin’s Nest in the Small Oak Tree

June 25, 2021

You may remember that Coral loves trees and loves to climb their branches when she wants a different view of the world.

Today Coral climbs the small oak tree behind the farmer’s house. This tree is a Northern Pin Oak (Quercus ellipsoidalis), and Coral loves its strong branches and thick green leaves.

From a branch near the middle of the small oak tree, Coral spies one of her very favorite summer surprises: a bird’s nest!

Built in the crook of a branch, the little round nest is an amazing work of art and engineering. Coral thinks she knows which bird built this nest, but she scuttles down from the branches for a look.

Not wanting to disturb any chicks that might be growing in the nest, Coral sneaks closer and listens and watches. All is quiet and still in the little brown nest.

Peeking carefully inside, Coral sees that whatever babies were there have now moved out.

The color of the leftover egg shell, along with the shape and style of the nest, tells her that her suspicions were right. This is a robin’s nest!

American Robins (Turdus migratorius) are extremely common around Rennwood Farm. In fact, Coral has just this very afternoon seen a pair of robins pulling earthworms out of the ground near the farmer’s house.

They migrate south during Minnesota’s winter, but when they return in the spring, the female robin gets right to work building nests for the beautiful blue eggs she will lay.

A female robin is an extremely talented nest-builder. She uses grasses, twigs, soft pieces of bark, and even man-made materials to weave the outer structure of her nest.

Coral notices that this nest has thin strips of plastic included in its base. Do you see them on the outside of the nest?

The robin strengthens the inside of the nest with mud, then lines it with very soft grass and feathers.

She lays 2-3 eggs before incubating them for two weeks. After hatching, baby robins stay in the nest for another two weeks, with their mother and father feeding them and keeping a close eye out for predators.

Robin chicks fledge (flutter out of the nest) at two weeks old. The mother and father robins continue to protect and care for the chicks until they are big enough to fully tend for themselves.

Coral loves the bright blue of the robins’ eggs. She loves the squiggly grasses used to weave the nest and the softer material used to line it. She imagines baby robins huddled in the comfortable space, safe under their mother’s downy feathers.

Mrs. Robin will not reuse this nest when she hatches new eggs; she will build a new nest somewhere else. But Coral leaves the nest as it is. Maybe a squirrel will use the soft material to line his winter home!

Scooting down the oak tree’s trunk, Coral makes another surprising discovery. A few feet away from the tree, one tall Black-Eyed Susan stands alone in the farmer’s yard.

Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) is just about the most common wildflower in Minnesota and definitely one of Coral’s very favorite flowers. However, it does not usually grow in the farmer’s yard, and Coral wonders how a stray seed was planted in this spot.

However it happened, Coral is glad that it did. The little flower is beautiful with golden rays shining through its petals.

Black-Eyed Susans are hearty and beautiful, but they have a short growing season in the summer.

Birds love to eat their ripened seeds, and sometimes stray flowers are planted when seeds are passed through a bird’s digestive system!

Maybe, Coral ponders, this flower was accidentally planted by the same robin who built the little nest.

Most likely not, as robins prefer worms, insects, and grubs in the summer. . . . But, maybe!

Either way, Coral is happy with today’s discoveries. She loves the secrecy of hidden birds nests and the mystery of unexpected flowers.

Nature is full of surprises, and Coral looks forward to more very soon!

Good-night, Coral, until the next adventure!

~ Have you ever found a bird’s nest?

~ Did it have eggs or baby birds in it, or was it empty?

~ Did you identify the birds that made the nest?

~ Have you ever found a flower in an unexpected place?

~ What is the most unexpected surprise you have seen in nature?

Resources to explore:

~ Learn more about Northern Pin Oak Trees.

~ Learn more about American Robins.

~ Learn more about Black-Eyed Susans.

About the Author

Sharon Bazant

Deer and Dandelions
Kitten in the Clover