Co-Parenting with Nature


The other day I found a baby robin in my driveway under the overhanging apple tree.  I suspect it fell out of the  nest which was 20 feet above.  I guessed that this wee bird was about 3 or 4 weeks old since it had some feathers as well as downy looking feathers and it was trying to hop (mostly flop) away from me.  I left it in the driveway for awhile and I thought I noticed the parent bird feeding it.  I tried to move it over to the side of the driveway out of the way of cars coming and going but it just ‘flhopped’ back near the middle.  When dusk approached, it was still there.  I was concerned about leaving the poor thing on the ground where it would be vulnerable to predators like the dozen feral cats in our neighbourhood (one of which I had seen at the end of our driveway only a few days ago).   Climbing up the apple tree and putting him back in the nest (if it really was the one he fell from) was out of the question.  So I decided to give him a better chance of surviving the night and put him in a cardboard box in the garage.  I even added the empty robin’s nest that I had  recently removed from my eaves trough and a little lid with water in it.  At this stage in life, the 3 week old babies usually are so big that they spend their time in the nest while the parents sleep on a nearby branch.  So I figured that this little bird would be warm enough by himself.  I crossed my fingers as I covered the box with a sheet to help the poor frightened thing settle down for the night.

Baby robin in its temporary home

Baby robin in its temporary home

I understand that this is not ideal.  I realize that in some areas, normal citizens aren’t supposed to rescue fallen baby birds but rather take them to a ‘specialist’ rescue center.   BUT with no options, I decided that the best thing would be for the Momma bird to resume feeding her baby during the daytime when she would be doing it if the fledgling bird was still in the nest.

I got up bright and early the next morning, fully expecting to find the little bird dead.  Much to my surprise, it was alive and well, with it’s mouth wide open waiting for breakfast!  I rushed out to the garden and dug a few small worms and dropped one into its mouth.  I think that it preferred chewed up worms because it didn’t quite know what to do with a wiggling worm half hanging out of it’s mouth.  Sorry little one, but I wasn’t going to accomodate you!   I knew that this was likely not sustainable because they require feeding every 45-60 minutes and I couldn’t see me doing that for the next few weeks.  Meanwhile, my daughter Nellie was researching on the internet what we should do:  we could feed it canned cat food, cut up worms and commercial ‘baby cereal’ (okay, why would I feed a different species, human commercial baby cereal when I wouldn’t even feed that stuff to my own babies…..!).   I went with my first inclination and put the box back out in the driveway where the bird was found.  I left him inside the box since I thought he’d be more protected and hoped that his Momma might find him.  Sure enough, Momma bird came right away and fed him!  I was totally amazed at the bond that had been established between this mother-baby dyad !   I know human mothers and babies have a strong bond but birds are much lower on the evolutionary scale and it’s instinct that kicks in!   (maybe more Mothers should follow their own instincts too)

When it began to pour rain, I moved the box up onto our covered porch.  Now I wasn’t sure how comfortable Momma bird was going to be here especially with our indoor cat sitting on the window sill watching everything.

Momma robin arrives!

Momma robin arrives!

......and she jumps right in and feeds her baby!

……and she jumps right in and feeds her baby!

But her instinct to feed her baby was far stronger than her fear.  The primal ‘unconditional love’ that this Momma bird showed her baby is incredible.  Despite the serious adversity of losing her baby from the nest, she overcame the obstacles and continues to feed her little fledgling every hour or so.  We also keep an eye on what’s going on discreetly through a window,  just in case there is any undesirable company.

Peeking through the window

Peeking through the window

Two nights (inside the garage) and two days have gone by and so far, so good.  Momma robin is waiting for us in the morning!  The cardboard box is big enough for the little bird to hop around, get some exercise, flap its wings – getting stronger every day.  Hopefully in the next week or so, it will be strong enough to fly to the top of the box and follow it’s Mom away.

So I guess you could say that I’m co-parenting this baby robin………. and I get the night shift.  So wish me luck on my journey in avian co-parenting!



4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Amanda
    Jul 08, 2013 @ 22:00:20



    • grammomsblog
      Jul 08, 2013 @ 22:13:32

      It IS cute ……….. but I don’t want to get too close to it . I want to only have contact twice a day = taking it out in the morning and bringing it back into the garage at dusk. Let the Momma bird do the bonding!


  2. Nicole
    Jul 09, 2013 @ 07:31:34

    I enjoyed reading this Linda. I remember when we had a nest in the mailbox (the door wouldn’t close) and the mother fed her babies. Had to leave a note for the mail girl.


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