It's not enough to put out some seed and fill the birdbath. Birds are attracted to locales that provide nesting places and building materials (as well as a good insect selection - YUM!).
I encourage all the nesting (except ducks!) I can get. That's why the beds are never fully manicured. Dried daff blades and catmint trimmings and grass clippings and little piles of henbit/other weeds are left 'laying around' for the birds. I even put out all my dryer lint (sparrows LOVE it).
It's been a very bad year for robins. I've found abandoned nests in the pieris, rose of sharon, and one rhody . It's not that any robin chicks have fledged (I've not seen (or heard - they are distinctive!) even ONE so far this year. :-( ) I've found nests with broken eggs, abandoned eggs, and torn nests. ( I remove these nests as they won't be re-used and by taking them away, the tree/shrub/location allows birds to re-nest.)
I think the robins went for the shrubs because they are more stable in high winds. Unfortunately I think the squirrels have been harassing them.
There is one lovelyl bird that I'm very fond of. I watched her gather nest materials for a couple of days, then disappeared for a few days (obviously to lay eggs way up in the star magnolia tree) and then became a fixture in the lawn and beds just off the deck as she hunted bugs and worms to take to her chicks. I was thrilled that something was going right.
Then just 3 days ago, I found 2 half-feathered chicks dead in the grass under the tree. High winds? Probably, they had not been damaged or predated. *sigh*
I grieved with the robin. But today, after 3 days of bird mourning (hanging out with hubby?) she's back into building mode. I watched her sort through the dwindling pile of shredded maple roots on the turnaround, selecting tough, but slender/flexible bits. She took a lot. (The jays are also shopping there.)
Next time I went out I found out that she was already into plaster mode (glueing the framework with muddy leaves and such). Evidence? She was getting her plaster from my deck containers of columbine and hyssop. HEY!
So I netted them and mad some mud under my bins bench and crunched up lots of shredded leaves at the ready. (Yes, I still have leaves from last Fall.) She found the spot in record time. (They must smell the mud!)
Abandoned nests ==> see all the mud plaster?
Anyway she's busy busy busy, making good use of the plaster. After every beak-full, she hops up onto the birdbath, checks out the sky and surroundings, then flies up into the magnolia crown.
(Update - the next morning I saw that a 2nd pair of robins were at the muddy leaves. I watched her leave and saw she was building a nest in the rose-of-sharon where I'd earlier removed a nest with broken eggs. I think both pairs of robins are rebuilding in their old locations. Let's keep our fingers crossed. Oh, and for the jays, too.)
Although mud is a key ingredient to nest building, DRY is the key to parent bird health. I've set aside a bit of plain old dirt in the sun which ALL the birds scratch up to powder and then take dust baths to help keep out mites, etc.
Bottom line, it takes a bit of 'messy' places in your gardens to really entice the birds to stake a claim and call the place home.
All the robins (and jays) are scarce now, so I'm assuming all the ladies are settled into their new digs and are just waiting for yet ANOTHER bird to visit. The STORK. ;-D
You go girls!