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In 2016 I’m doing a 365 Nature project. Each day of the year I will post something here about nature. It may be any format, a photo, video, audio, sketch or entry from my nature journal. It could be a written piece. Each day I will connect to nature in some way and share it here by the end of that day. You can keep up-to-date by subscribing to the RSS feed or be notified by email. See all the 365 Nature posts.

I’ve been waiting for a slow day to investigate something in our yard and after the last few crazy days of nature outings, today seemed the perfect day. Robins built a nest in one of our front yard shrubs this spring and I first started documenting them on Day 108 when I spotted them gathering materials and chasing crows out of our yard. On Day 133 I first saw the tiny, pink chicks begging for food in the nest. I continued to watch them on Day 135 as they started growing feathers and then on Day 140 when they started branching out away from the nest. One day they were gone and although I don’t know individuals, we’ve had a lot of young robins in our yard and I’ve watched them forage and follow adults around.

The nest was well hidden in a camellia tree behind the evergreen leaves and very hard to see. The chicks and the nest were very difficult to photograph in the tree and ever since they left I’ve been wanting to take the nest down to look at it. Today I finally did so. The nest was easy to lift out of the branches and it stayed together very well because it was woven so tightly. I was immediately surprised that the nest cup was very shallow, only an inch or two deep. It was also very flat, which was hidden by the outside cone-shape of the nest. The inside was lined with dried mud making a very neat surface, while the outside was woven with dried grasses and twigs and unfortunately, little bits of plastic. Small amounts of mosses and a few leaves were also woven into the sides of the nest.

It’s very different from the Bewick’s Wren nest that I investigated on Day 154 which was inside a nest box in our backyard. The wren’s nest was very messy with no obvious cup and contained many feathers. The robin’s nest was certainly neater and cleaner and unlike the wren nest, I saw no obvious insects in the nest.

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Kelly Brenner

Kelly Brenner

Kelly Brenner is a naturalist, writer and photographer based in Seattle. She is the author of NATURE OBSCURA: A City’s Hidden Natural World from Mountaineers Books. She writes freelance articles about natural history and has bylines in Crosscut, Popular Science, National Wildlife Magazine and others. On the side she writes fiction. Kelly holds a bachelors degree in landscape architecture from the University of Oregon and a certificate in non-fiction writing from the University of Washington.

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