Robin Cam

I usually won’t post something 3 days in a row … no, wait, I wrote that yesterday … I usually won’t post something 4 days in a row, but there’s a new camera today!

Yesterday while doing yard work I noticed a nest on one of the downspouts, up high where it goes back against the house. I looked inside and yes, one robin’s-egg-blue egg. So I set up a camera, because that’s what I do. Today the female robin was on the nest twice for an hour or so each time and she left another egg. I’ve therefore enabled the camera for streaming: to watch use the View Live Cameras link on the home page, as usual.

About American Robins: (there’s also a European variety)

  • The dates shown below are very approximate estimates.
  • Usually they lay 3 to 5 eggs, laid at about 1 egg per day (completed: ~ April 24?)
  • Incubation time is 12 to 14 days (hatching on: ~ May 7?)
  • Young birds leave after 13-16 days in the nest (fledging: ~ May 22?)
  • Both parents feed the young birds.
Photo via my phone when I first noticed the nest yesterday.
The streaming camera has an added “reading glasses” lens (white circle) that is not quite powerful enough since the camera is so close. I’ll put a stronger lens on soon to improve the image (e.g. below the downspout is focused but the robin is a bit blurry).
Screenshot of the robin on the nest today.

Hooded merganser photos

I usually won’t post something 3 days in a row unless hatching is near, but I got some pictures of the hooded mergansers today that I want to share. The female in the photos is the one using the south nest.

I also checked the south nest this morning and the eggs are still cool. Also she’s not staying in the nest all day and she’s still hanging around with the male. Both of those behaviors change when laying is done and incubation begins. Thus even though she has been in there overnight lately and has created a thick down blanket, I’d say incubation has not started yet. The west nest now has 8 wood duck eggs, one more than yesterday.

Cameras are active

All three nest box cameras are now streaming.

The live camera page is linked from the main home page

  • It may take a few seconds for video to start. When it has started and you see the seconds time ticking along in the top right corner of a video, then the view is live (that clock is part of the camera).
  • Audio will be off when you start viewing but you can click an icon and use a volume slider to turn it on.
  • The video/audio controls hide automatically. If you don’t see them touch / move your cursor into the video area. 

Status: If you look at the cameras you’re very likely to see the wood duck in the East nest: she’s incubating and is in there about 22 hours per day now, and she will keep that up for a month! You also probably will see the merganser in the South nest although she has been gone for about 8 hours in each of the past 3 days, during the middle of the day. The West nest is visited more briefly but one or more woods ducks are laying there. Your best chance to see something other than wood shavings in the West nest is in the morning (USA Central time).

I think the merganser is getting serious about incubating. As I mentioned in my previous post, the eggs were cold as of yesterday morning but she has spent a lot of time in the nest box each day and she now has a nice blanket around her, which means she has plucked her down to insulate the eggs and to allow her body heat to warm them (brrr! icy-cool eggs must be kind of a chill at first!).

Busy Ducks!

I’ve been away. The two previous postings were done from a different continent! (Kind of neat that I could do that … technology!) So today, for the first time in two weeks, I opened and checked the nest boxes and wow, these ducks have been busy!

East nest – 26 eggs, yes, 26! One is a hooded merganser egg, the rest are wood ducks. Also incubation has started: the eggs were warm when I checked them today. According to the chart of when the duck has been in the nest (below) that probably started yesterday or the day before, so we should have (lots of!) ducklings hatching sometime around May 17th, give or take a few days.

West nest – wood ducks have visited and left 7 eggs.

South nest – the hooded merganser has laid 12 eggs and she also has 2 wood duck eggs to care for. Her eggs were very cool today so although she has slept in the nest box a couple of times (chart below), she wasn’t yet heating the eggs. However she has been there since 2:15 today so maybe this is the start.

(Hatching estimates based on the start of incubation are uncertain. A common incubation time is 28 to 32 days but is sometimes even longer.)

  • There is a technical issue to resolve, but I hope to have the streaming cameras online soon.

Activity chart:

This shows the nest box activity for the last 5 days. N=Noon, M=Midnight, gray shading=night time, magenta is a wood duck visit, blue is the hooded merganser, dots are brief visits but still possibly long enough to leave an egg.

Below is a photo of the 26 eggs in the East nest box. So many! (Our record here is 31, of which 25 hatched.) A couple of eggs in the corners are not visible. The more rounded, larger, and whiter egg just above my fingers is the hooded merganser egg. Note: Ducks are not affected by this disturbance of the nest when they aren’t around. They don’t have much sense of smell and thus don’t react to human scent. Other ducks will sometimes come in when the incubating duck is away and move the eggs and the nest material around as much as I do.

In the South nest box, 12 hooded merganser eggs and 2 wood duck eggs:

West starting

West – Yesterday a wood duck finally spent 45 minutes in the West nest box: time enough to have left an egg.

East – There are now 8 wood duck and one hooded merganser eggs here. A wood duck will lay an egg every one or two days until she has about a dozen so incubation will probably begin in a week or so.

South – The merganser continues to add another egg every other day and a wood duck continues to visit very briefly each day, only to move the wood shavings around for a few minutes.

Wood duck visiting the South nest. Those are hooded merganser eggs.
East nest box: one hooded merganser egg.