We have, EE and I been following a pair of nesting Eastern Yellow Robins at the You Yangs since she began about late October to settle in to nesting.
Because EE has been working with them pretty closely, I’ve really tried not to get in the way, as the raising of an Eastern Yellow Robin is fraught with complications and doesn’t need people trampling all over the nursery.
For the uninitiated, Mum sits on the nest, Dad feeds, and after about 3 weeks the egg(s) hatch. Then a feeding frenzy gets the little one(s) to a point of being able to move but not quite fly. They then flutter down from the nest. Once into the leaf litter or small shrubs, they stay pretty much stationery unless really disturbed, and then the best they can do is to hop or jump away. Flight of any real significance doesn’t happen for 3-4 weeks.
They have two survival strategies.
One: remain absolutely still. No matter what. And I’ve seen them for up to 15 minutes or more, sitting in the leaf litter and not a move is made. It can be barely possible to see them breathing.
Two: A brilliantly designed brown and creamy chevron dress makes them almost impossible to see amongst the litter. Just ask someone who has located one, and then tries to explain to someone else. “There, by the small stick, under that overhanging branch, with the dark green leaves. Oh, better yet, look from just here, bend down, see, just there behind that pale grey leaf.” Oh. Forget it. About the only way is when an adult flies in with a food parcel. Then, “Oh, over there, you didn’t tell me that!” See first paragraph about not getting in the way for more details.
Mum and Dad, (This is one of the few pairs we’ve never struck names for, as we really can’t distinguish one from the other), have been working so well with EE, and occasionally I’ve been allowed a glimpse of the young one – they only seem to have succeeded in bringing one up.
But now that the young one is nearly moulted out of the brown and chevron, and is a fully developed flyer, and is able to fend for itself, things have changed a bit. And today, I got a few minutes where it came to visit me and see what I might be doing.
During that time, it also put itself into a secluded area behind some leaves and I think it practised its singing calls. It has the Robin contact call and what appears to be the warning call down pretty well, but the sharp distinct “PhTew’ call of the adults is still a ways off. So it sat among the leaves and seemed to run through the process of calling. A bit garbled, so more praccy needed I suspect.
Here are a few from the morning’s portraits.