Robins start building their nests in the last week of March — particularly in the south. Egg laying is common from the end of March throughout April & May, eggs in June are a little more uncommon but there have been some records of them. If all goes to plan Robins can raise 2–3 clutches in that time.
Robin’s nests are often very well know but quite hard to find unless they choose obscure places. Their nests are placed in hollow banks, on the ground and are built from moss on top of a foundation of dead leaves. They usually create a small cup to lay the eggs and this is mostly lined with hair.
Robins conceal their nests well, you probably won’t find one until the fledglings have left — unless of course you put out one to help them along the way.
The Robins don’t tend to build their nests when humans are around. Preferring to keep them a little hidden and away from sight. The Hen (who builds the nest alone) only visits for a few hours each day to build it. Observing where she goes may help you to locate it but they are clever little birds and they will probably sway you in different directions!
It usually takes 3–4 days to build their nests, taking a little time each day to perfect it. Once the nest is built the hen lays one egg per day between 6–8am (Robins are obviously a lot more routined than most!). The male feeds the hen whilst she is incubating the eggs and once they have hatched, they take it in turns to feed the baby birds — making sure to do this when they are not being observed.
I was lucky last year to have the privilege of two baby robins appearing at the feeder — these same little ones have also stuck around. I have no idea where they build their nest but their appearance at the feeder in May was delightful!
Robins do however have a little notoriety around building their nests in interesting and unusual places. There are 7 instances that really stick in my mind!
- The weirdest place has to be the unmade bed! Two robins from Birmingham made their nest in one and it was left unmade for the rest of the fledgling season. They actually managed to raise a successful brood from it!
- The quickest nest build has got to the be the one made in the gardeners coat. A gardener hung up this coat at 9:15am to work, when he went back to his jacket at 1pm for lunch there was a robin’s nest in this pocket!
- One pair nested in a car and successfully raised their brood whilst travelling with the car to feed them, even when it was moving!
- That isn’t the only instance of travelling nests. A pair from Walton Heath built their nest in a lorry and did the 100 miles a day round trip to Basingstoke feeding their chicks along the way each day!
- Mixed broods are quite intriguing! There has been a few cases of robins sharing nests with other birds, but the one that I find the cutest is the join Blue Tit nest. Both hens laid their eggs but eventually the robin deserted the nest. The blue tit raised a successful mixed brood of 7 fledglings!
- Sometimes they go a little crazy or maybe they get confused, building a whole range of nests. One pair built a few too many, building them in to the side of brickwork they created 6 different nests evenly spaced apart and laid eggs in each. I guess that helps to to give you more options!
- A Robin once built a nest in an old kettle in the garden. Unfortunately a little bossy Wren came along and took a fancy too it, stealing it for herself!
These are all fantastic cases of random robin nests, but there are lots more! Maybe leave out some small objects around the garden and see if you get any obscure nests!