Date: Spring 2012
We have a robins nest and babies just hatched. The mother has been feedin them. Today my daughter took a picture with her camera but didn't touch the nest. I haven't seen the mother robin since. Do they abandon the nest if they see someone near it?
I think the mother will return. Robins typically express their unhappiness loudly when their nest area is visited.
I can tell you that I had a robin's nest in a tree I have potted adjacent to my front door. I actually visited the nest daily for a quick status photo. The mother loudly protested, but she became used to my innocent photo taking. Like your daughter, I did not touch anything and I did not get within a foot of the nest. The eggs hatched, the young grew, fledged and left the nest.
My last reassurance to you is to say that it is ok to wonder about things in nature, but I would not get anxious about them. Animals in the wild successfully fend off all sorts of threats and the species survive, so some innocent photo taking....at an appropriate distance so as not to disturb the young..... should not be a cause for great concern. I'd bet that the mother will quickly return.
Robins are not shy in maintaining their territory. (Note that if the mother does NOT return, there is always the possibility that she encountered some other danger unrelated to the photo-taking. If this happens, it would be important to let your daughter know that sometimes things happen in nature where not every animal survives. You can then tailor your message appropriate to the child and her level of understanding.)
Happy birding, and thanks for using NEWTON!
Simply taking a picture should not cause the birds to abandon the nest, but staying near for more than a couple minutes might. There might be other reasons the adults would not return, something else might have happened to them.
Most likely she was watching you from afar. As the babies get bigger she won't actually spend time sitting on the nest anymore, she will only return to feed them!
It would actually be more in line with their nature for robins to challenge anyone coming too close to the nest. The parents normally do not abandon the nest just because people are around it, but they definitely prefer that no one gets too close, human or otherwise.
Here are a few things you could do that might make them feel a little more comfortable.
- Stay a reasonable distance away
- Don't be there all or most of the time
- Avoid doing things that might scare them.
- Take pictures from a distance without a flash
If they haven't yet returned you might want to give them a day or two of solitude, which might be all they need to feel comfortable about returning.
Hope this helps!
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Update: June 2012