The scoop on poop: Nature’s disposable diaper

Social Media Specialist

A parent robin will eat its baby’s fecal sac for the nutrients the first several days after babies hatch. Photo Patrick Kelly

The natural world is full of intriguing, and sometimes gross, wonders. Robins exemplify these fascinating and revolting wonders while feeding their young.

Baby robins stay in the nest for nearly two weeks. During that time, they eat around 350 insects and worms a day. That adds up to a lot of poop! Almost immediately after eating, the babies produce fecal sacs made of a strong, thick mucus that acts as a diaper. To keep the nest clean, the parents pick these up with their beaks without puncturing them and dispose of them away from the nest most of the time.

However, the first few days after babies hatch, parents will eat the fecal sacs to get nutrients from the partially digested food. The hatchlings don’t have a lot of bacteria at this age to fully digest their food, so their droppings are rich in nutrients. Once the babies develop more bacteria to process their food, the parents will stop eating their waste. This is the ultimate example of recycling in nature. You can watch this phenomenon below.

One thought on “The scoop on poop: Nature’s disposable diaper

  1. This is very interesting. I am recently self-proclaimed birder and didn’t know this. I appreciate the video as well.

    Thanks for the newsletter and blogs. Makes for good morning reading and very informative.

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