What are these baby robins doing?
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Photo: Wayne Kryduba

These speckled babies probably heard their other parent returning to the nest. When baby robins are hungry, their instinct tells them to open their mouths wide, stretch their necks, flutter their wings, and make begging sounds. The bright orange color inside their mouths — and these behaviors — trigger the parents' instinct to feed them.

Scientists think that robin nestlings compete with each other by begging. The hungriest bird usually begs the earliest, stretches its neck highest, and puts its beak near the parent's mouth. That makes the parent more likely to feed it. As its begging gets more intense, the siblings also increase their begging. It's a good thing that robin nests are well hidden in trees. All that noise could — and sometimes does — attract predators!