Robins signal spring. Their small nests filled with bright blue eggs pop up around April and remain breeding hot spots until about July. Unfortunately, moving the nests can mean a death sentence for eggs and chicks. When possible, wait until the next is empty before moving it.
Robins aren't year-round nesters. They really only use their nests to lay eggs, and once the baby birds fly away, the mother likely will, too. So if you have an empty robin's nest on your property, there's no harm in simply tossing it in the trash. Throwing away an empty nest doesn't harm the robins or disrupt their reproduction cycle. If the robin was in the middle of building that nest, she'll start making a new one before she lays her eggs. To prevent her from building a new nest in the same spot, try to block off the area. Cover nooks and crannies in your home's exterior with cardboard or wood. Cover bushes and shrubs temporarily with burlap or old sheets.
Robins are sensitive to changes in their nests and environments, especially in the spring. If you find a robin's nest that contains eggs or baby birds and you can wait to move it, you'll be doing the best thing for the birds. Even if you move the nest a very short distance, the mother robin could become distressed enough to abandon it. Without a mother, eggs won't hatch and the baby birds will likely die. The good news is that you won't have long to wait until it is safe to move the nest. It takes just two weeks for eggs to hatch and about two weeks for baby birds to fly away.
Renovations and Nests
If you're concerned for the health and safety of robins because of home renovation projects, you may be surprised to know it's still better to leave the nest where it is. Many birds can survive house painting, construction and other home renovation projects and still successfully hatch their eggs, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Take special care to avoid the nest when doing projects if you can, and warn any contractors or workers that there are active nests in work areas.
Nests on the Move
If moving the nest is absolutely unavoidable, wear gloves, gently move the nest to a similar location in a nearby area and wait to see if the mother returns to her eggs or babies. There's a good chance she won't. If she doesn't return after several days, discard the nest because the chicks will be dead and eggs will no longer be viable and will begin to rot and smell. There's no sure-fire way to move a nest that ensures both the safety of the eggs or young and the return of the mother.