Be There: The Story Behind the Robin Family Photo After First Baby Robin’s First Flight

Birds, Nature, Robins

Date: July 12, 2013
Location: Ontario, Canada

Camera: Canon EOS 30D
Lens: EF100mm/2.8 Macro USM

Exposure: 1/320 at f/2.8
ISO Speed Rating: ISO 400

I didn’t expect to see this, let alone capture it. I didn’t even know both male and female robins share feeding responsibilities.

A robin built a nest on top of the outdoor speaker just outside my back door. I followed the development from nest construction to egg laying, hatching, and feeding of the baby robins. As they grew larger, I decided I wanted to capture a first flight, starting with the moment it took the leap of faith.

One night in July, I watched as a fledgling robin looked agitated and restless in the nest, sitting up near the edge, chirping. I guessed it wanted to leave, so I parked myself nearby, waiting for it to jump and fly.

I waited and waited and waited. But it wouldn’t jump. After 7 pm, I didn’t want to wait any longer, thinking I should try again the next day. But something gave me pause, and I waited longer.

The little bird jumped when I took my eyes off him. My heart sank. I had waited patiently but missed the moment. Even though I didn’t see the jump, and wasn’t ready with my camera, I saw the flight. The robin flapped a lot but moved very slowly. However, it was a smooth flight, so he had a soft landing.

Next he hopped onto the fence.

One parent came over to him with a worm to feed him; and then the second parent arrived, also with a worm, ready to feed him.

At 7:21 pm, we end up with a picture of the baby in the middle, one parent on one side turned towards him with a worm, the other parent on the other side turned towards him, also with a worm.

I don’t know if I could have staged the scene better than it turned out.