Posts Tagged ‘Robins’

The door is an unmistakable shade of Campbell’s tomato soup. It is as unremarkable as it is dependable, keeping the big, bad wolf without and us safe and sound within.

There is little reason to open the front door except to water the planters, shoo deer, chipmunks, and squirrels away, or to meet the occasional pizza delivery van. The business end of the house is in the back and most folks visiting know to go to the back door.

So it was that, on a mission to check the fuchsia Tom had given me for Mother’s Day, out the front door I went.

Something swished past as I stepped onto the porch. I paused, looked around and realized an awfully agitated robin was flitting about, expressing her displeasure at my sudden presence, just as the Antler Man meandered down the driveway to the check the mailbox and unaware that I was out on the front porch.

I said I could hear a disgruntled bird but wasn’t seeing it. I looked around then turned to straighten some twigs, leaves and raffia on the wreath hanging on the wall. Tom’s mom made the wreath from grapevines many years ago. We hung it up front a few year’s ago. I usually add a big, seasonal ribbon and put dried flowers, twigs, string, acorns and walnuts – items to keep it attractive and, at the same time, provide nesting material for birds.I hadn’t gotten to it yet this spring.

Just as my hand was setting to rearrange some errant raffia and dried plant material from last fall, the protective mama swooped past me, chattering away. My hand stopped midair. A mother’s intuition, perhaps, or just my own curiosity,  I moved closer, slowly upon my tippy-toes, and looked closer inside to the wreath.

There it was!

The reason for this engagement in my own version of Angry Birds.

How do you like my spring wreath, just outside the front door?

Meanwhile, this was already established at the back door.

Spring work is going on with joyful enthusiasm

 John Muir









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DSCN9597 - Version 2It was a good morning for watering and weeding. The hot weather had the late summer blooms begging for a mercy. The birdbaths were dry as a bone. So . . .  I lugged the hose to the “way back” and filled the furthest water bowl to brimming as a chorus of robins and swallows and a few nervous wrens waited, all at a respectful distance, waiting for me to finish.

The robins were first up, though a crow quickly bullied his way into happy hour. No matter. Robbins are always civilized, waiting in line, taking turns at the bath, dipping and dunking and ruffling their feathers when done. They all waited as I snaked the hose to the bird bath just beyond the arbor, followed by the sky blue bath in the shade garden.

I watched as they enjoyed the splash park, and they watched me as I watered the clematis and roses, the Ladies Mantle and the hostas. I love watering hostas, for, no matter their condition, they perk up and say thank you as soon as the water reaches their toes, and is there anything more poetic than drops of water resting in between the creases of her Ladyship’s skirts?

A few steps up the arbor and onto the drive led me to our corner bird bath; a reclamation of a neighbors’ long-ago fountain destined for a landfill. As I dipped the watering wand into the basin, a bird swooped in and landed upon a shepherd’s hook, just a few feet from me. It was a young robin, pictured above, wandering the neighborhood while his parents were off to more grown up matters.

I stood there, holding the nozzle just so, creating a gentle spray. This fledgling watched the droplets and me, tilting and turning his head. At least I thought he was watching me, until he moved, in a wink, opened his beak, and caught a minuscule bug, crushing then swallowing and looking at me, as if to say “see me, Miss Penny, I can do this all by myself“.

It was really a very sweet moment and I mumbled “ohhhhh” and, do you know, dear reader, he did it again. I swear, he was smiling. He watched as I turned the nozzle off and pulled the hose toward the front, where a few more birdbaths beckoned me. As I tugged, for the hose is heavy and the drive is long, there he was, sitting on the rim of a rather dry bowl, waiting. I did not want to scare him off, so, I added water to a much more shallow bath and a few plants until he flew away..

All the baths full, I started pulling weeds, carrying them a short way to my nifty new wheelbarrow – and there on the handle was none other than my little feathered friend.

It is nice, is it not, to make new friends whilst working in the garden?


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The big drama to come out of Monday’s storm here was a large branch that had fallen from one of the Sycamore trees. It just missed the new arbor and flattened a few hostas. As I lugged the branch, I noticed a nest that had fallen to the driveway. I gently turned it over, expecting some fragile eggs. None to be found, I carried on. When I returned, however, something compelled me look down. There at my feet, mere steps away, were two baby robins, one on his back, kicking his spindly legs, the other opening and closing her beak as if calling for mama.

The nest was soggy and weak. I could see the mother robin a short distance away. She knew where her offspring were, but, they were out in the open. I put on some garden gloves and gently lifted each baby bird, placing each into the nest and cupping it with my hand to hold it together. Their little bodies were warm and trembling and I was fretting so. There was no way to get them back into a tree, so, Tom made a twig shelter on the edge of the drive, near where we saw the mother, and we gently placed the nest down into it and then backed away.

The phrase “a wing and a prayer” came to mind.

A little later, Tom came in to say that he saw the mother robin feed her chicks, even as he worked nearby,  hammering and sawing. She knew my Antler Man wouldn’t hurt her chicks.

We checked the babies periodically throughout the day. We worried when one seemed to have climbed out of the nest. We remained at a respectable distance when the mother was nearby. It is hard to let nature take its own course, but, we knew that was what was best, and so we let time play out.

Yesterday morning I went out to check the nest, which was right where we put it, but with no nestlings in sight.

A little later in the morning, I checked again. Still no babies, but, I could hear the mother chirping and then a weaker chirp coming from the ground. Where? I could not tell, but, I knew that like the illusive four leaf clover, one of the chicks was out there somewhere. I slowly covered ground, the chirping getting louder until there it was, hidden in amongst the leaves. One of the babies had definitely survived and will one day soon learn to spread its wings and fly.

Our Jennifer was over today. As she was leaving, she wondered where the baby robin was. We walked and I showed her the nest, then we heard chirping. It was as if the little robin was calling to Jennifer, who has always been so tender and gentle with all of God’s creatures. I kept moving and looking, but, not my Jennifer. She just watched and then quietly said  “there it is” and, indeed, there it was, as if it was just waiting for Jennifer to discover.

Life is good that way sometimes, isn’t it? Those little moments of hope and of tenderness. We just need to grab them and keep them.

A Robin Perched on a Mossy Stone, John James Audubon

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