Earlier this month, NestWatcher Ed Laster surprised us by reporting an American Robin building a nest in his neighbor’s yard in Arkansas. When the nest building developed into egg-laying, we wondered if this might be the earliest robin clutch in our database. As it turns out, it was the earliest clutch that could be verified (one additional record in Kentucky was not definitive).
The eggs were laid sometime between December 30, 2019, and January 6, 2020. Because the bird was still nest-building in late December, we suspect the eggs were likely laid in early January, but no later than January 6 as we know that three eggs were present on January 8. Ed reports that the eggs were abandoned as of January 13, an expected outcome for such an early nest.
Why do birds sometimes do this? We hypothesize that the subtle increase in day length after the winter solstice (December 21, 2019) might have stimulated this robin to begin the nesting process. It is increasing day length in the spring, rather than temperature, which triggers hormones responsible for reproduction in most temperate songbirds. Ed’s observations demonstrate that every record adds value and is worth submitting!
recently bulk-uploaded 429 raptor nest records from California with assistance
from Friends of Griffith Park.
Spanning three years and five species, these data will yield valuable insights
into urban hawks’ nesting habits. This upload is part of an ongoing monitoring
effort spearheaded by Dan Cooper and Courtney McCammon, with the Friends of
If you live in the Los Angeles area and would like to volunteer as a raptor nest monitor for Friends of Griffith Park, please reach out using this form. Trainings will begin soon!
With spring semester starting, now is a great time to download our free Thinking Outside the (Nest) Box curriculum. Written for educators of grades 5-8, the included lessons and activities walk students through making a nest box and becoming a citizen scientist. The materials are perfect for science classes and after-school clubs like 4-H. Download a copy in English or Spanish, or request a free printed copy in the mail (English only, while supplies last).
We’ve recently updated our NestWatch manual for 2020. The manual contains much of the same information available on our website, but all in one printable PDF. It’s the perfect place to get caught up on NestWatch if you’re brand new to the project. Download it here.
We’re more than halfway through the digitization of our Northern Cardinal historic nest-record card collection. You can help us get across the finish line by clicking over to Nest Quest Go! and transcribing some cardinal nest cards; even a few minutes spent transcribing is helpful!