Mama robin stares down Wally

News-DemocratMay 13, 2014 

I was strolling through Effinger's Garden Center in Belleville last week when I saw a small sign warning me about a robin's nest.

As I casually looked around I noticed the nest, complete with mama bird sitting in it, only about 18 inches away tucked into a flat of annual plants on a shelf a little over 3 feet tall. She stared me down, not moving.

It's not unusual for Effinger's, at the intersection of 11th Street and South Belt West, or any other nursery, to have birds nesting in hanging baskets, trees or roof supports. But 3 feet off the ground, right next to an aisle where people pass by, is a little different.

Rick Effinger said they have had a lot of fun with the situation. People love to come by and check on the birds and the staff checks on them.

"We always try to leave them alone until after the babies leave," he said.

On Tuesday, the mama bird had three eggs in the nest. I saw no sign of the papa bird although he must have been around somewhere.

Mama wasn't on the nest the first time I checked but I got a good look at the three blue eggs. A few minutes later she was back. She let me approach and look at her but then hopped off the nest and flew a couple of feet away just in case.

When I retreated, she returned.

It isn't easy being a robin.

According to the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology website, only 40 percent of nests produce young and only 25 percent of those young survive as long as six months.

It isn't unknown for the birds to nest on the ground or in low places. But usually they nest in the lower half of trees, in gutters or in the eaves of buildings.

The garden center also has what looks like a starling which has nested in a stereo speaker hanging from one of the pipes supporting an awning.

The bird peeked out of a hole in the back of the speaker as I watched, as if checking to see if the coast was clear, and then quickly flew out, probably in search of food.

It will be interesting to see what happens when all the eggs hatch and there are babies to be fed.

Have a column idea? Call Wally at 618-239-2506 or 800-642-3878; or email: wspiers@bnd.com.

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