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Nebline Newsletter Article

Getting Robins To Stay
This article was submitted by Mary Jane Frogge, Extension Associate, University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County. The article appeared in the April 1995 NEBLINE

The first robin of the year is a sure sign that spring is here. By offering them a little encouragement, you might be able to convince a pair that your garden is just the place to settle down and raise a family. Robins feed on open lawns and nest in woodland areas with trees and shrubs. Your chances of attracting a nesting pair are better if your garden has both of these elements.

The beginning of the breeding season is announced by the song of the male robin, usually heard from a high perch. Once a pair of robins selects a territory, the business of building the nest begins. Robins construct a cup-shaped nest made of grasses, small twigs, strips of cloth, hair and string. The inner surface of the nest is reinforced with mud. The female incubates the three or four blue eggs for 12 to 14 days.

Robins usually raise two or three broods each breeding season. During the hotter summer months, they prefer to make nests in the higher branches of deciduous trees. The moisture evaporating from the large leaves helps to cool the female while she sits on the nest. During the cooler months the nest is usually lower in the branches of evergreen trees or shrubs.

Although robins do not use birdhouses and only seldom visit bird feeders, they can be encouraged to nest in your garden. Sometimes robins can be persuaded to accept nesting shelves. A nesting shelf can be made from three boards nailed together to form the floor, back and roof of a house about 6 inches by 8 inches by 8 inches high. Mount it on the side of your house under overhanging eaves or in a shaded spot. A vine covered wall is especially attractive to robins.

Do not be discouraged if your efforts are not immediately discovered. Be patient and you will be rewarded by a busy family to share your garden.

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