Wild Animals/Robinís eggs


Hello, we have a robin who built a nest on the fake palm tree we have on our deck  As soon as I spotted it I have not let my husband or the cats out there.  when mama Robin was off nest in mid afternoon I took a peak - staying inside, using a step stool and mirror.  There were 2 eggs in the nest.  I have been careful about not disturbing her and she has been nesting now for about 2 weeks.  She also puts her head and body in the nest - tail up and I think she is rolling the eggs which I have read they do.  Is it possible these eggs were unfertilized and she doesnít know they are not viable?  She sits on them faithfully only leaving for 5 or 10 minutes at a time.  But it seems like sheís been nesting for a very long time.  Would she know if the eggs were not viable?  Thank you in advance for any information you can provide.

Dear Karen

Thank you for your question. I also wish to thank the authors of the websites I used.

https://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/robin/EggstraEggstra.html says the mother robin incubates her eggs for 12-14 days, so nesting for about 2 weeks is usual. If the egg doesn't hatch in a few days, it is probably unviable. Please note that incubation is an instinctive behaviour, so birds may sit on unviable eggs and even models of eggs, but http://www.sialis.org/eggsunhatched.htm says bluebirds will stop incubating once they realise the eggs are unviable, perhaps if the eggs haven't hatched within a given period of time. It is only June at the moment, so if the eggs in the false palm tree don't hatch, the robin has plenty of time to lay a fresh batch of eggs this year.    

https://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/robin/FAQNestsEggs.html and https://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/robin/facts_baby_robins.html may help you if you have any other problems.

I hope this helps.

All the best


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Jonathan Wright


I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.


I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

WWF. ZSL. Natural History Museum. RSPB. London Bat Group.

Newsletters of London Zoo volunteers and the London Bat Group

BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

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