Red Robin, Red Robin...
June 26, 2010 11:24 AM   Subscribe

How can I convince the local robins to nest in my trees?

I've just moved in to a lovely apartment with trees around the windows (I'm on the second floor). The area of the Northwest I live in has several robins around town, and as robins are my favourite bird, I'd like to entice them to my trees in particular to home. Reading online has mentioned that having available water would help, but I can't find any direct suggestions for types of bird seed or nesting materials that might be attractive to robins in particular.

A potential roadblock is that I can hear several jays in neighbouring trees, and I feel as though jays would be pretty territorial creatures.

Any suggestions?
posted by thatbrunette to Science & Nature (9 answers total)
Here's a simple guide on how to build a robin house, with nesting information. It suggests mud, because these birds use it in their nest building.
posted by Phalene at 11:35 AM on June 26, 2010

As far as food goes, being on the second floor might be a problem, as robins are ground feeders. You might try putting some a small bowl of mealworms out on your sill for a few days in a row to see what happens - they may discover it, they may not. Putting it on the ground would be better, if you can...scatter the worms. Robins are mainly carnivorous - worms and bugs make up the majority of their diet. I wouldn't waste money on seeds. Maybe try raisins in a bowl, but they will be taken by a lot of other birds. We have about ten bird feeders (filled with all sorts of seed/suet/fruit combos) and I've never seen a robin on any of them - I only see them hop around on the ground looking for bugs and worms.
posted by iconomy at 1:58 PM on June 26, 2010

Robins don't do seeds. They really like earthworms. You could try putting a few in a window box with some dirt.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:17 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

The robins around here defiantly enjoy meal worms. It makes for entertaining bird feeder action as the bluebirds (who are the birds we buy the meal worms for) aggressively protect "their" meal worm feeder. The bird feeder is on the railing of our deck - about 6 feet off the ground.
posted by COD at 2:20 PM on June 26, 2010

(Of course, attracting robins to your window might not be the best idea in the world, unless you really enjoy the thud of bird on glass.)
posted by Sys Rq at 2:21 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

I know *nothing* about robins/birds. But I do know robins turn up without fail anytime I turn dirt in my garden. So yeah, treat-filled dirt might make you some friends.
posted by Ys at 2:21 PM on June 26, 2010

We just had a robin's nest in a butterfly bush outside our living room window. It was about ten feet above the ground. It was built mostly from spaghnum moss that the bird took from a planter we had outside. Definitely worms.
posted by fixedgear at 2:40 PM on June 26, 2010

Be aware that robins are incredibly sensitive to false-dawn situations (street lamps and such) and tend to wake up extra early and start a very loud, persistent song that is more powerful than you would believe, especially when you're desperate for sleep.

We found this out by having a robin nest as a neighbour when we lived in Capitol Hill (Seattle). At first we were charmed by their earthworm hunting (they really do love earthworms - start a vermiculture compost pile and you'll have plenty of robins), but the 4-5am wakeup ritual was a bit much after a (short) while.
posted by batmonkey at 5:19 PM on June 26, 2010

My parents have a robin living in their evergreen tree. It's dense enough to keep out most predatorial birds. The neighbors have a robin nesting where their downspout angles under their eaves. It is obvious they try to find a sheltering tree or spot that is very well protected so in most cases you will not be able to see the nest unless you build them a house they would like.
posted by JJ86 at 6:07 AM on June 27, 2010

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