We were at our son’s house last summer for a barbecue when I noticed the repeating bird’s nests in the rafters above his deck. I’d never seen so many nests built so close together! He hadn’t been paying close attention so he didn’t see who’d built them and wasn’t even sure how long they’d been there.
It wasn’t until the robin built her nest in our flowerbox that I came across a possible answer when I was Googling how to live in harmony with her and found this article that addresses repetitive nest building.
Building multiple nests simultaneously happens every now and again with robins. One started 26 different nests on roof rafters of a garage under construction; another built 8 on successive steps of a fire escape. Support from underneath is the primary site selection factor for the female robin — it’s more important than concealment. Because some human structures provide repetitive sites with strong support, the female can get seduced into building multiple nests.
This is an example of “supernormal stimuli” — artificial stimuli that are even more effective than those provided by Mother Nature (tree limbs). Animals have a hard time resisting supernormal stimuli. There are many examples. Your robin will probably settle on one site and just lay eggs in that nest, or else just incubate eggs in that nest after laying, say, one egg in one nest and two in the other. She won’t lay two complete sets of eggs and try to incubate both of them at the same time.
Well, that could explain things.
I can totally relate to the idea of being seduced by “supernormal stimuli”. I think we all can, really. We humans are enticed by and drawn to artificial stimuli on a regular basis.
Fake food, fake lives, fake news. Fake everything at every turn.
It’s a bit sad, really. Nature can hardly compete anymore and it’s getting worse with each generation. We notice it everywhere we go and I’m sure you do, too.
Let’s face it. We are all being seduced by supernormal stimuli but unlike the robin, we can resist it. We can recognize it for what it is and we can choose to do something different.
We can let reality seduce us, instead.