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Backyard Birding

Almost ½ a Meter of Worms

Robins began to arrive at their breeding grounds in the townships of Waterloo Region in early March.

After checking out the area and resting up from her long flight from down south, the female chooses the nest site and builds the nest. She takes from two to six days to build the nest out of mud and clay, making an average of 180 trips a day.

The first clutch, or set of eggs, is laid in late April or early May, commonly followed by a second clutch and, at times, when conditions are favourable, a third. A clutch of three or four eggs is common, and each weighs about 5.5 grams (a little less than a quarter).

For the first four days of a nestling’s life, the parent birds regurgitate partly digested food into each baby’s mouth. By five days of age, the nestlings get earthworms that parents break into small mouthfuls. The babies eat more each day and soon parents give them whole worms and large insects.

Believe it or not, each young robin will consume a lot of insects and may eat as much as 430 cm (14 feet) of earthworms in their two-week nest life—and worms are not even their main food!

Image credit: Missouri Department of Conservation; 

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