Bulging eyes, gaping beaks and bare pink skin — baby robins are
a sight to behold! How would you describe newly-hatched nestlings
a robin’s nest?
A baby robin’s transparent skin and translucent skull let us
see the actual size of the eyes. They look enormous
on tiny nestlings, but will soon be hidden by feathers. Baby robins
are born with their eyes closed and remain shut for
about five days.
The skin of a baby robin is so thin we can sometimes see the internal
organs. If you look closely at the pinkish skin of a baby robin, you
may see the purplish-red liver, orange yolk-sac, and greenish gall
bladder. The gall bladder holds bile to help the birds digest
worms. As the nestling grows bigger, the yolk sac gets smaller.
It may show some bright yellow areas here and there; those are fat
A newly-hatched robin has only a few tufts of fluff. The down feathers
grow in quickly. This layer of soft feathers makes
nestling look fluffy and helps keep it warm when mother is away. How
do body feathers grow? Each feather looks like a miniature straw at
first. Then, that smooth outer case — the sheath — crumbles
and allows the developing feather to open. In about 14 days, the
baby robin is covered with body feathers.
Baby robins grow quickly! Within 13-15 days, the once-defenseless babies
are ready to leave the nest. Watch for juvenile robins in your backyard.
You can identify a fledgling by its fluffy, speckled breast. Keep watching
at the nesting site as well. Mother robin may soon be busy with
a new brood of babies begging to be fed. Be sure to report your observations.