Juvenile robins battle for a turn at the water

Juvenile robins battle for a turn at the water

For the past two years, my wife has run this jury-rigged bird bath.  She hangs the hose over a convenient limb and lets the water drip into a horse feed pan.  The assemblage is completed with a couple of bricks that allow the birds to stand ankle deep in the water for drinking and bathing.

All of the birds in this picture are robins and all retain some spots on the breast indicating that they have not yet completed the molt into their first set of adult feathers.  The second photo shows a close-up of the juvenile plumage.  During the month of September, most birds molt into the familiar red breast.

Young robin with speckled breast.  The breast will turn red by the end of September

Young robin with speckled breast. The breast will turn red by the end of September

In the late summer both this year and last, we have noticed absurdly large collections of juvenile robins using the bird bath in September, virtually to the exclusion of adult birds.  The second most numerous users are juvenile starlings, followed by juvenile cardinals.  It is not as if the adults are absent—we still have plenty of them at our feeders.

Our question is why the juveniles love this birdbath so much and why the adults are absent.  Might it be as simple as the adults being more cat-savvy than the kids?    Anybody got any ideas?

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