Our Robin Red Breast

Our robin red breast, Bugsy, in his cage.
Our robin red breast, Bugsy, in his cage.

Robins aren't too bright

A robin's nest in our tree. How interesting. Until the baby robin fell out. We weren't sure what to do with it, put it back or leave it alone. It was too young to leave on the ground, it wouldn't survive. So, we picked it up and put it back in the nest in the tree. Later the same day the same baby bird was lying on the ground. We picked it up one more time and put it in the nest. Albert Einstein said, " Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." So, the third time we found the robin on the ground we decided NOT to put it back in the nest at the risk of being thought insane! But, what to do with it? I now became baby robin's mother.

We found a large box to keep it in. I knew it had to eat and be kept warm. We brought the box in the house and I began feeding it wet bread with a tweezer. I knew giving it water would choke it. Baby birds can't handle straight water. They are used to their mother feeding them regurgitated food. I'm a good mother but I wasn't about to regurgitate anything. Tiny pieces of wet bread seemed to do the trick, but robins grow surprisingly fast and I knew it was getting hungry. We couldn't keep calling it "the robin" so we decided to find a name. The baby robin did a lot of scratching so we called it "Bugsy."

Bugsy Grows

I started feeding Bugsy chopped up worms and bugs which I dug up in my backyard. I wasn't too thrilled about this task but it was still better than regurgitation. I would find small bugs and worms and chop them up. Once in small pieces I would feed them to Bugsy with a tweezer.

It was incredible how fast Bugsy grew. The box was no longer able to contain him so we put him in a large cage. Don't ask how we happened to have a large cage, that's another story altogether. Soon it was obvious I no longer needed to chop Bugsy's food. He was able to eat whole bugs and small worms. He had started drinking water out of the dish in his cage so we knew we were on the way. His feathers were mottled and growing in day by day.

He was a friendly bird and we talked to him and whistled at him. I no longer had to hold him while I fed him. As soon as I came near the cage with the tweezer he knew it was time to eat and would sit patiently with his mouth open waiting for me to feed him, not unlike my children.

In no time at all he was the size of a full grown robin. He still didn't have the smooth appearance of a grown bird but all his feathers were in, no more bare spots. We knew it was cruel to keep a wild bird in a cage and he was surely large enough to fly and eating well so we decided to take him outside to acclimate him to the weather again. He'd been in the house about three weeks. We sat the cage outside and I began feeding him there. He was eating two to three times a day now so I thought we could try bigger worms. He consumed a nightcrawler in the time it took me to hold it over his mouth! We have sandy soil so my worm supply was limited. I now had to begin buying worms. I still supplemented with the occasional bug but they disappeared in his beak so fast it was like a hiccup. One or two nightcrawlers led to three or four. In no time he was eating a dozen nightcrawlers a day. Who knew robins consumed so much food!

Again we realized it was time to let Bugsy learn how to fly. I opened the cage door so he could come out and explore. He was timid at first, having adjusted well to his new home, but curiosity got the best of him. He hopped out and hopped around the picnic table but it seemed flight was not yet on his agenda. We repeated this process for two or three days and all of a sudden Bugsy began to fly. He didn't fly far or high the first couple of tries and he always returned to me. I then put him back in the cage. On the third or fourth day he took flight. Up into the air, circling around he flew stretching his wings. I watched and thought this is when he leaves our nest but that was not to be the case. When he tired he returned to his cage.  If we wanted him back before he was ready we whistled "When the Red, Red Robin comes bob, bob bobbin along."  It turned out to be his favorite song!


Flying and Returning

Flying came easy now, but so did returning to his "nest." We let Bugsy out inside the house now too. He had no fear of people or animals. In the house he would often land on our dog's back and hitch a ride. Fortunately our dog was an agreeable guy at the time.

I used to whistle "When the Red Red Robin Comes Bob Bob Bobbin Along" to get his attention. I know, corny but it worked. Whenever we were outside we let Bugsy roam. He'd fly around our backyard and over our house into the clouds. I'd whistle my robin song and he'd come back and land on my shoulder. When I was gardening in the yard he'd often just sit on my back while I worked. My husband would sit on the pool deck to read the morning papers and Bugsy would go up and sit on the deck next to him.

We knew he had to return to the wild, he was a robin after all. However, he kept coming back to us and answering my whistle. We'd let him out all day long and just bring him in at night. One evening we were going out. He was flying around and it was dusky. We whistled for him to come in but he didn't return so we left him out. When we did return I whistled for him, but no Bugsy. The next day I walked around the neighborhood whistling, like a fool, but no Bugsy. He had decided it was time and finally left the nest.

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Comments 14 comments

Kalyko profile image

Kalyko 5 years ago

Interesting hub...thanks for sharing.

jewls 4 years ago

Thanks for sharing such a wounderful caring story, you are very lucky to have had such a terrific time with such a beautifull bird :-)

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Thank you Kalyko, so sorry I didn't reply sooner. Seems your comment got lost in the shuffle.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Jewls, it was a wonderful experience. He was a fun bird and I was heartbroken when he disappeared because I don't think he was prepared to live in the 'real world'.

monique 4 years ago

I am now experiencing the same :)

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Enjoy! Mine was a great pet and seemed to train easily. He responded well to humans and seemed to bond right away.

moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

I loved this. We also had a little robin that kept falling out of the nest. Mother robins are not good mothers they build terrible nest. Our little guy lasted about three weeks than passed away. He would have never been able to go back in the wild. His leg had been broken and curled under. He was a funny little guy and we enjoyed him while we had him.

Voted Up.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

It really makes you wonder where mother robins were when nest building was being taught! To bad you didn't get more time with your little robin they really are enjoyable. I miss mine. My brother-in-law had a Blue Jay (with a broken wing) for ten years. He couldn't fly so he would walk all over the house.

Lindsey James 4 years ago

This is an awesome story! Thanks so much for sharing! How amazing to be such a part

Of nature. We Had a robin nest

In a small tree out front. It stormed earlier this week. When I we g outside this morning I noticed the best under the tree an cracked eggs. They do t make it :(. I'm wondering if I can replace te best in the tree an let the momma try again? Respond to Lbmoonpie@aol.com please.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Having Bugsy was a great experience!

Your momma robin will build her own nest or rebuild what's left of the one that's there. They are tenacious if nothing else. You really can't replace the nest as they use their own 'stuff' and their own way of building. If you still need an email response or want more information let me know.

WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 4 years ago from Space Coast

Great story. Here in the Florida scrub, it is songbird paradise. The birds don't land on our shoulder, but they are used to us. There is a family of mocking birds who can't wait for me to finish mowing the grass before they swoop in like a gaggle of bug raptors. We get robins coming through twice a year, and do they do their favorite thing in the fall . . . getting drunk from rotten mulberries. The squirrels join in, and they party all day.

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tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

I would LOVE to see drunk robins and squirrels WD!

Rachel 4 years ago

I am going through the same thing right now. I let him out during the day, he lands on our head or shoulder and follow us around outdoors. When my husband digs for worms (we still feed him), he sits by and looks at him. Sometimes, we will jump right in there to help and eat his meal right there and then. I am afraid that he is unprepared to live in the wild without our help. I understand your last post - I am so worried that he'll land in front of a cat or a coyote or some other critter that won't be so friendly to him as our family has. We found our little guy in the middle of the road after a bad wind storm. No parents were about. We moved him to the side of the road and watched all morning. Finally, I had enough of worrying about him and brought him in. That was 2 weeks ago.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

It's a tough call. He probably isn't prepared to live in the wild. It puts you in a bad spot for sure. Do you leave him out at night or does he stay in your house? If he stays in your house he's really become a pet and may not make it in his own world. If there's anyone out there with advice on this situation please let us know.

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