Not to worry it wasn’t our house. It was Robin’s house.
There we were on Sunday, ready to enjoy a beautiful summer-like day at the cottage Pete’s family owns just over the Wisconsin border. But first there are always a few chores to do before the relaxing can begin.
Over the years we’ve lost a couple of trees in the yard, so now there’s an awning attached to the house that we have to set up manually to provide shade on the south-facing deck.
It takes two people to lift it off its hooks and walk it out to the opposite side of the deck. The awning unrolls and the two posts lock into a base that is secured to the deck. Then the support arms are tightened to extend the awning.
As Pete and I started to lift, he noticed some dried hay and grasses tucked into his end of the rolled-up awning. We rolled it out a little more and all of a sudden, PLOP! A bird’s nest falls to the lounge chair below. Along with it: two fledglings and two robin’s eggs.
The eggs weren’t cracked, but we think the eggs may not be viable since the nestlings have feathers already. They were uninjured, but still too young to fly. We found a box to place them in along with the nesting material while I called the nearest wildlife rescue organization, Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation.
Did you know that, under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, native birds are protected by federal law, and “once a protected bird builds its nest on your property, federal law prohibits anyone from disturbing the bird or its nest, eggs or young”?
Not that I would ever disturb one, but this was completely inadvertent. Nevertheless, the person I spoke with told me I needed to find a way to put the nest back the way we found it, or as close as possible. Well, there was no way we could roll the awning back up and stuff the nest back in there without potentially harming the fledglings.
If we put the nest on top of the awning, it would be in sunlight most of the day and exposed to rain. The woman at the wildlife rehab suggested a hanging planter, however it needed to be placed close to where the nest was no more than a couple feet or the mother wouldn’t return.
It turns out that handling the fledglings isn’t a problem, because robins have no sense of smell and will not reject the young. Getting her to return to the nest to feed them was going to be the questionable part, especially since my stepdaughter was having a small party that day and there would be lots of people about.
We were finally able to find a smaller box that would fit just under the eave and on top of the awning. We placed it sideways to simulate the way the mother would enter the rolled-up awning, so it was pretty darn close to the way she built it.
Later in the day I saw a robin in the nearby tree, and we heard the babies chirping for her, but we left without knowing if she would return to feed them. My stepdaughter stayed overnight with a few friends, and one of them noticed a bird flying away from there, so it must have been the mother. I’m anxious (and a little reluctant) to see if they made it when we return on Sunday.