Help! How do I protect my Robins?

by Cara
(Peterborough, Ontario, Canada)

North American Robin

North American Robin

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I'm looking for some advice on protecting two Robin nests and the babies when they fledge. I've done research on the internet, but some worries have not been answered.

I apologize for this post being SO long! I really appreciate anyone who reads it and replies with some advice!! =)

We've always had nests around the yard, usually Robins. We live in Peterborough, on the canal and have A LOT of wildlife around.

Just in the past 2 days we had a Skunk and a Porcupine in our yard, plus for about a month we've had gutsy Raccoons hanging around and coming up on our decks.

Also, the neighborhood cats love to hang out on our yard, but are doing it less, but one male likes to spray all around our yard when we're not around.

The one nest is right beside our front door in a 'Welcome' sign plant basket hung on the wall.

This Momma Robin is used to us and doesn't even chirp while we are near her nest, just stays close by.

The front porch is small, but I'm worried that an animal could jump on the side railings and easily jump into the nest.

I live with my parents and want to find a somewhat nice looking way to make it hard for animals to get on the railings, plus a way that is safe for the birds.

I've read about using chicken wire, string, and hanging CD's to keep animals off, but could those options be bad for the robins?

Would the reflections off the CD's not bother Robins too?

As for around the front porch I think I'm going to:
1)sprinkle coffee grounds in the gardens
2) sprinkle dried Rue (a strong smelling herb cats dislike) on the grass
3)I've already sprayed vinegar in a semi circle on the ground around the porch

Would a decorative bunch of vines on the railings keep animals off?

Would that possibly be dangerous for the Robins who may get stuck in it?

Also, a couple houses down have at least one Starling nest, starlings being one of the main predators to local birds, and very aggressive!

I know its legal for me to wreck the nest, but I doubt my neighbor would give me permission, and if there are eggs in it I just couldn't ruin it.

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We have a lot of the predator birds around, such as Blue Jays and Sparrows. I read that one solution is to hang an umbrella over the nest, since birds usually dive and attack from above.

But would this solution be negative for my Robins, like blocking their view while looking for danger, or make flying from the nest more difficult.

It is a covered porch, but obviously birds can easily dive in still. Plus, my parents don't like the look of a random hanging umbrella.

Any ideas or opinions?

My other Robin's nest is in my backyard, under our large high deck that is about a storey off the ground. Its on top of the wooden lattice fencing that acts as a wall blocking the way under the one side of the deck, so its barely under the deck and very easy to see.

The nest overlooks our lower deck (which is attached to the lattice), if I stood on it I could easily reach her nest.

I'm worried that an animal could easily climb the lattice and get her nest. We have vines that climb the lattice fence, but they wont be green and leafy till mid-summer, and right now could possibly help an animal climb up. I thought about putting Chicken wire over the lattice to make it harder to climb... or would that make it easier?

Would that be bad for the Robins (ex. Get stuck in it)?

The lower deck also has a railing that an animal could get on and easily jump over onto the nest. And there are a lot of easy ways to get under the deck, another spot animals could attack from.

So this is all about protecting the nests, but when the babies leave and are on the ground not flying yet I'll have a whole new set of problems!

The last Robins nest we kept an eye on a couple summers ago was fine until the babies left, and they stayed on our high back deck while they all couldn't fly. One night while we were sleeping something killed 2 of the 3 fledglings on our back deck.

We helped the parent as much as we could with the baby that was hopping around on our yard. We would carry it away from the road when it got too close, and hide it in bushes with the parent whenever we couldn't be around.

If anyone could give me any advice I'd greatly appreciate it! It would be a huge help if I could also get advice on keeping the Bird predators away such as Blue Jays and Starlings.

Thank you for taking the time to read this long note!!

I'll probably post another (shorter one) when the babies become fledglings.

THANK YOU!!

Hello Cara, I am re-posting this today and I do hope you get lots of answers to your questions - Bless you for caring so much about our feathered friends!

I will also post this on our Facebook page so that our Facebook followers can also read your question.


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Comments for Help! How do I protect my Robins?

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May 30, 2017
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Same situation....
by: Stephen

I have been watching a couple of Robins taking care of their nest the past couple of weeks. Today, I walked out on my deck to see the nest gone from being nestled under eaves where downspout runs at an angle from eavestrough.
I looked over the railing to see the intact nest empty with no sign of broken eggs. Last night, I smelled a skunk and I imagine it or a raccoon attacked nest. I guess it is the way of nature but I feel a loss as I was looking forward to the hatching of the eggs that I never did see due to being above eye level. I didn't want to climb up to look in as I didn't want to make Robins frantic. I will look into how to protect them as I was reading that in our area of southern Ontario, Robins can have 2 brood in season.

May 23, 2017
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Five Baby Robins gone :(
by: Anonymous

We had a nest with five baby robin eggs in it and I watched them right up to day 10 after hatching. They had nested in our kids playhouse, they were almost ready to fledge. A crow took them all out within 20 minutes. I'm devastated.

May 15, 2017
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Such a sad day
by: Normandy

I am writing as I am so saddened today. I have had a robin come back for its second spring, 4th nest with eggs laid. The first nest was in a small bush that got knocked off so she relocated up on a lattice that I have a few feet away, closer to my front door. She and daddy robin are cautious but always so kind to us and allow us to check in on her babies every once in a while. I came out to check on them this morning when I noticed the nest was tipped ... my heart immediately sank and then I noticed the flies flying around my flower bed, where I saw 2 half eaten babies. The other 2 babies I'm not sure where they are (eaten or amongst my flower bed as well). I feel so sickened and upset I couldn't save these babies. I fought off crows and squirrels last year for this mama, which is why I think she trusted me. Now what do I do!?! I let her down. Why wouldn't mom and dad have fought off these predators that came???? I'm so sad and confused. Heartbroken. I really hope she comes back if I can fix and secure the nest, but I'm also unsure that I can take another heart break if this happens again.

I do understand, it is awful when this happens - I try to keep in mind that there is a correlation between the number of babies an animal has, and the likelihood of the survival of those babies. For example, pairs of frogs lay hundreds of eggs, and only a few will survive, but in actual fact it is only necessary that in the frog's lifetime, two little tadpoles grow up to be adult frogs to replace it's parents in the next generation. It is the same with robins - they lay two clutches of eggs each year, with three or four eggs in each clutch, and they do this for three or four years. In their lifetime, to keep the robin population stable, it is only necessary for the parents to be replaced by two of their descendants.
Your robins will likely lay another clutch of eggs this summer and raise their young, and hopefully a few of them will survive.
You are doing your best and providing a safe place for them.
We breed pigeons and it is so sad when one of the youngsters dies or is killed by one of our male pigeons - it does happen now and again and the attacks are brutal - I am devastated when it happens. Also when we let our birds out to fly, occasionally, one will be attacked by a hawk and come home injured and I feel terrible, but we do our best to care for our animals and keep them safe.
The only thing I can tell you is this ... "The only thing required of you today, is that you do your best". That's it. You can't protect the little robins from predators, but you are doing your best.
I hope this helps.
Barb, Webmistress

Apr 22, 2017
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Protect Robins
by: Anonymous

I had 2 robins building a nest, they were happy, but it has been empty now for about 3 days, since a crow attacked. My husband said it had a bird in it's mouth but couldn't see what bird. Anyway this seems to be a huge problem for all of us, will they return to the nest, in the mean time we have to wait until leaves come out for more hiding protection any ideas would be welcome.

Jul 27, 2016
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Sad Day
by: Alvin

Hello and thank you so much for creating this post. My wife and I have been watching a Robins nest for the past few weeks and today was a sad day she called me at work very up set she said three crows managed to steal and eat one chick while a second one fell on the ground she was able to bring it into the house which I drove to the wild life society within the hour and its now under their care. Then I went back to work, when I came back home I found another chick already dead in the middle of my drive way needless to say it has sadden me very very much, My wife doesn't know about a third one being dead. Now my question is how can we protect them in the future?.

Jul 01, 2016
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Need suggestion to protect baby robin from crow
by: Anonymous

I had 4 baby robins, in my backyard yesterday. But today I see 2 babies got eaten by a crow, it makes me sad and mad. I don;t know how to protect them. Is there any suggestion to protect baby robins next time, please ?

May 17, 2016
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Can I protect a new Robins nest?
by: Debbie

The other day a Robins nest was attacked by another bird. There are feathers all over nest, broken eggs etc. now there is a new Robin nest. Is it ok to put a black garbage bag around the top of the little tree where she just laid her eggs to protect her and her eggs from the rain as well as the lurking crows. I laid a big black bag on top, leaving room for mom to get in but to keep her dry from rain as well as the bigger birds attacking. Like the other day. Thank you for any help. iluvdiamonds777@aol.com.

May 17, 2015
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Crow deterrent
by: Anonymous

I have a good Crow deterrent: the first is to work to deter them from building their nest nearby. Crows announce where they plan to nest by perching on the top of a tall conifer and cawing. I first clap loudly at them. Some will fly away. If that fails, I ring a loud bell at them. That works with some. If they are still determined to nest nearby, I blast a couple of short blasts with a marine horn in their direction. That will make the most determined fly away. (Wear ear protection). I do it every time they're cawing at the top of a tree or if I find them threatening a Robin's nest. When Robins are threatened one sits near the nest and cries "chip. chip. chip!" If you can get the crow to fly, the Robin can chase it away and bite its wings. Otherwise, the Crow takes short hops to the nest and the Robin is helpless to protect the brood.

May 28, 2014
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Robins
by: Hilary

Sorry to hear you lost your Robins, it is upsetting, it could be magpie's. They will keep going back for each one and it only takes a second.

May 27, 2014
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Three day old Robins
by: Sarah

A Robin built her nest in a large rose bush (6-7 ft.tall) in our enclosed back yard right by our bedroom window. The 4 (approx. 2 days old) babies were there this morning at about 7 a.m. but when my daughter went to check on them a few hours later, the nest was empty. There is nothing on the ground and I think a cat would leave fur in the thorns. Any suggestions?

Mar 21, 2014
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Save the Robins
by: Hilary

Like you, I have a Robins nest full of babies in my ivy, I have just put some plastic square mesh which is quite stiff around the nest. This took all of a minute to do, and did not scare off mom and dad Robin, they are perching on the plastic and flying in and feeding babies, I have done this as last year my neighbour's cat got to all the babies. The plastic mesh is unstable on the ivy so feel the cat will not be unable to balance on it and it cannot reach with its paw to hook the young robins out, the plastic made a nice dome around the nest. Hilary

Sep 30, 2013
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Over due thank you :)
by: Cara

Thank you everyone for your suggestions and stories! We had a couple of batches of baby Robins I got to watch grow and leave the nest :)

Jun 27, 2013
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RE: I'm in tears!
by: Anonymous

I know this is an old post but felt I wanted to comment. I am sorry Gerty about the Robin's nest in your yard. Mama may have been trying to protect babies but it sounds like an animal or large bird. They may have returned for the nestlings since nest knocked over, but if they were 4 weeks old, that is when they fledge and leave the nest for good. The father cares for them on the ground until they are old enough to care for themselves while Mama goes off to build a new nest for the next brood. They have 2-3 per year. I pray that is what happened. Their father moved them to ground for safety reasons and something else up turned the nest.
My fist Robins that were next to my window ended horrible. I stepped away for an hour and returned to two frantic parents, Daddy fighting everything. Confused I peeked at 2 day old nestlings only to find a perfect, intact nest with no baby Robins. A bird, after a horrible rain storm ate them all. It was their first brood of the year & not much cover. In hind sight, I would have hung all the plants I thought to. Was afraid it would scare them away. I know better now!

Apr 26, 2013
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A wire cage
by: Anonymous

I have read that if you build a wire ball, large enough that the robins can get in but it will keep the magpies and crows out.
That is my suggestion.
I am going to try this, robins have just built a nest under my canopy in my hanging planter.
Hope it works for all!!

Jul 12, 2011
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Robins nest and their babies
by: Anonymous

Hi..we have a Robin's nest with 3 growing babies, in a nest the parents built, that is located in our outdoor back light... geez.. its gutsy of them to do this, and we have bought a hanging flower pot...to obscure the vision of predators.

So far, so good, but I'm worried, the parents are trusting of us, our lab and our cat (who is always on a harness and rope)

My main concern is Crows and Magpies and I realize that we are not allowed to kill any animals (I'm a total domestic and wild animal lover to my heart), but if I ever see a crow attack the babies I don't think I will have any choice but grab my broom and shoo them away.

I wish there was another way to deter them from my back yard.

I also have a cat who of course, loves and is interested in wildlife, and we take our cat camping with us, but never has she been allowed to attack any other animal.

I'm more worried that she will be attacked.

Anyways,our dog would guard the nest, when he's outside but when we are gone camping, I'm scared.

Do you have any ideas of how to protect these beautiful birds - would be appreciated.

May 31, 2011
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I'm in tears!
by: gerty

I have been watching my Robin's nest for 6 weeks and on Saturday, I noticed feathers on the ground and she never returned .....

I saw the dad flying around frantic and the babies were looking for mom.

I watched them all day and went out for an hour that night and returned, and was mortified to see the nest was pulled upside down and all the 4 babies of 4 weeks old, were gone ......

I'm so upset.

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