May 17 2011
“Prrruurrpp!” “Prruurrpp! ”
Last week I heard this sound for the first time this year. It emanates from a low branch or a dense bush, sometimes from the ground.
“Prrruurrpp!” is the sound of a newly fledged baby robin, begging for food. The first batch of robins has fledged.
Baby robins always look vulnerable with their short frowning beaks, short tails, short wings and fluff-tufted heads.
Indeed they are. They don’t fly well and they make loud noises that could draw unwanted, predatory attention. But for a baby robin, the noise is necessary. It tells their parents, “Here I am and I’m hungry.”
Don’t rescue these baby robins. Their parents have not abandoned them. The adults are gathering food nearby, rushing around collecting beakfuls of worms and bugs. The noise tells them where to deliver it.
If you listen closely you can hear when food arrives. The “Prrruurrpp!” is replaced by very loud cheeping and then a moment of silence. Ahhhh!
Though there’s high mortality in the nesting through fledging stage, robins make up for it by laying three to five eggs per clutch and nesting two or three times per year. The baby robin pictured above is probably from the second or third nesting since he’s perched among summer flowers.
In the end, more than enough baby robins survive to migrate with their parents in the fall.
(photo by Marcy Cunkelman)