Robin Eggs: Incubation and Hatching

Robins are very interesting birds often found across North America. They also have a huge roost, numbering close to 250,000 during the winter. The Robin bird has a unique nesting and hatching behavior, which we will discuss in this blog post. 

Robins are known for their cherry song; unfortunately, more than a quarter of these cheerful birds don’t survive past their first year. But don’t let that get you down, there is so much more to learn about these birds, but for this article, we will take you through the journey of a robin’s nesting behavior. 

First, They Mate 

Of course, we can’t talk about the hatching of a robin’s egg without discussing what led to the egg in the first place. That is why we will first explain how robins mate and their attitude during the breeding season. 

One of the adorable things about these critters is that they are monogamous, at least during the breeding season. Unlike hummingbird males that are not interested in chick’s lives, robin males are directly involved in the life of their babies, taking care of them even longer than the females. 

Robins choose a mate during a breeding season and remain together till the next season. Since they return to the breeding ground yearly, robins will mate with their partner for another season. 

The mating ritual of robins is adorable. It doesn’t involve the flight razzmatazz of hummingbirds. Instead, robin males feed their potential mates as part of the ritual. They do this ritual for two reasons. One reason is to prepare the female body for mating. The males take away the need for hunting by the females so that they can gain weight. Isn’t that adorable? 

Robin mating

Second, the ritual serves the purpose of strengthening the bond between males and females. During this process, the male and female work together to prepare for their baby while sharing a bond through food. Robins are migratory birds. They return to the same breeding spot after they have traveled long distances throughout the year.

After they prepare the nest, mating happens. The mating process is awkward and quick. It is called treading. 

Time To Lay Eggs 

After the female is fertilized, she begins laying her eggs. She lays one each morning. The color of a robin’s egg is blue. It is truly amazing to see. The female goes on to lay two to five eggs. She lays one egg per day. 

During this process, she feeds on earthworms in the morning. She eats the earthworms in the morning to give her body the energy to handle the demands of laying eggs. Egg laying is hard work. 

Because she wants all the clutch to hatch simultaneously, the female robin will reduce the time she sits on the eggs she laid first. She does this till all the eggs are laid. Then, she sits on all of them at the same time. Also, during the hatching process, the female robin only leaves the nest for about five or ten minutes. 

Robin Egg Incubation

After the mother robin lays her clutch, the incubation process begins. The mother keeps the eggs at a good temperature, giving the eggs a chance at life. The temperature of a robin’s body is estimated to be 104 degrees. The momma robin ensures that her babies get her body temperature directly by developing a Brood patch. 

What Is a Brood patch? A Brood patch is a part under the robin’s belly. The belly part is exposed because the robin has caused the feather covering it to fall off. This exposes her clutch to direct skin contact, ensuring they get heat directly. The patch comes in handy, especially during the cold winter. When winter comes, the mother robin presses her clutch against the brood patch, giving them more heat. 

However, when the weather is hot, like during the summer, the momma robin covers her clutch with just her outer feathers. By doing this, she effectively reduces the heat the eggs get. 

The female robin turns her eggs around using her bill, standing on the rim of the nest. She does this to ensure that each egg has enough temperature when she sits on it. It also shakes up the embryo so they don’t get stuck to the eggshell. 

Robin Egg Hatching Process 

Robin Egg Hatching

Robin eggs are ready to be hatched in about twelve to sixteen days. The female incubates the eggs for about thirteen days. The eggs usually start hatching each day in the order they were laid. This makes sense because, naturally, the eggs laid first have received more incubating. 

When the eggs are ready to be hatched, the robin uses an egg tooth to crack the eggs open. An egg tooth is a sharp hook at the end of the bird’s beak. After the mom breaks the eggshell, the chick goes through a full day struggle to get out of the egg. The chick rests intermittently as it goes through this process. When the chick finally comes out, it weighs less than a quarter. Oh, and they also come out blind and without feathers. 

Robin Chicks
Robin Chicks

The chicks in the nest are fed up to forty times a day. Both parents do the feeding activity. When the nestlings are thirteen days old, they get ready to exit the nest.

If you are on this blog, you are probably a bird lover, so hold onto your seats and heart; we are about to tell you a short and sad story. Did you know that more than half of robin chicks don’t go past their first year? This is because they are regularly destroyed by predators such as cats and snakes. The full population of robins turns over in six years. This is despite the fact that robins can live for fourteen years. This tells a grim story of how many predators attack these birds. 

Natural Incubation

Most of you know what natural incubation entails. To put it simply, when you see a chicken sitting on her eggs, natural incubation takes place right before your eyes. This process is what we explained earlier in the blog post when robins sit on their egg, giving them warmth till they hatch. 

Robin sitting on eggs

One of the advantages of natural incubation is the bond it develops between the nestling and mom. When the chicks open their eyes, they will first see their mother’s face. 

Artificial Incubation 

While natural incubation involves the chick’s mother, artificial incubation consists of a machine. Artificial incubation is used when the mother of the bird isn’t around. Some bad bird moms abandon their chicks, and in some unfortunate cases, the mother may die. Some birds refuse to sit on their eggs. This is where an artificial incubation machine comes in. 

One of the advantages of artificial incubation is that thousands of eggs can be incubated simultaneously. Some machines can hold thousands of eggs. With an incubator, you can hatch eggs all year round without too much thought to the brooding season of the bird. 

The downside to artificial incubation is that it has a low success rate when compared to natural incubation. 

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