Apr 15 2009
Yesterday morning when I got off the bus I looked at the walk signal even though I wasn’t going to cross the street.
Why did I look up? Did I see something move? What didn’t look right?
Aha! An American robin is on a nest in front of the Don’t Walk hand.
What was she thinking when she built her nest there? I’m sure the traffic signal is warm and the metal hood provides a shelter but the hand cycles through blink/on/off and she’s sitting right next to a loud mechanical cuckoo that calls every few minutes when the Walk signal lights up.
Maybe she wasn’t thinking at all. I’ve had some experience with robin nest site selection and have reached the conclusion that robins aren’t very smart. Inevitably they pick a site that has some safe characteristics but at least one glaring downside for baby birds. This site has few predators but it’s an asphalt jungle where the fledglings could fall in the street.
I hope this bird succeeds but she’s facing tough odds. Even if all goes well at the nest only 25% of American robins survive their first year. The species makes up for it by laying three or four eggs per clutch and raising two – or more – broods per season.
Meanwhile the Don’t Walk Robin sits patiently. She’ll incubate her eggs for 12-14 days and feed babies in the nest for 13 more. If you want to visit her, look at the walk signal next to Starbucks at Forbes & Craig in Oakland. If she’s not there just wait, she’ll come back soon.
(photo by Kate St. John)
p.s. Have you seen a nest in an unusual place? Let me know by leaving a comment below.