Posts Tagged ‘Robin’

“Spring’s last-born darling, clear-eyed sweet, Pauses a moment with white twinkling feet, And golden locks in breezy play, Half teasing and half tender, to repeat her song of May.” –Susan Coolidge

Looking out over Lake Walcott on a cool day through tree branches that are just now beginning to green up. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

Today is the last day of May, and supposedly summer should be on the way. In fact, it was already being felt mid-April when I left my family behind in Texas, where yesterday they had temperatures in the 90s.

Here in Southern Idaho, yesterday’s temperatures were only in the 40s, but the weather gurus say it’ll be in the 60s today.

I think the birds, who have mostly been staying sheltered during the past few days of cold, wind and rain, might have heard the news as well. I was awakened by their blaring symphony outside my RV.

Barn, rough-winged, violet-green and bank swallows are making the landscape outside my window look as if it’s full of moving polka dots. Bright orange-chested robins are courting and building nests. Canada geese are already raising goslings. Western grebes are dancing on the lake. Common nighthawks are circling overhead in the evenings.

American goldfinch have already emptied my thistle bag twice. Killdeer are loudly squealing on the ground as they lead trespassers away from their nests in the grass. Starlings are going in and out of a hole in the self-pay kiosk outside my RV. Mourning doves are gobbling up the birdseed I threw on the ground. And brightly colored Bullock’s orioles are preening their puffed-out feathers.

I’m a happy birder.

It’s also been a delight the past two weeks to watch spring, which everyone says is quite late this year, come out of hiding.

A Bullock's oriole outside my RV in a cottonwood tree with his feathers all puffed up to ward off yesterday's wet coolness. -- Photo by Pat Bean

While the process happened almost overnight in Texas before I left there, the cool weather here has caused the change to take place in slow motion. It’s been a delight to be able to watch it in such detail.

Daily, I’ve seen leafless tree branches green up, beginning to hide the nests being built there by stick-transporting birds. I’ve watched as dainty lavender and yellow wildflowers have slowly peeked up through the grass, while the dandelions that came before them have shed their blossoms and are now scattering their puffy white seeds.

And now I’m going to walk Maggie and see what other wonders I’ll discover this last day of May. Life is good.

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Hungry mouths

Growing a little

Photos by Pat Bean  

“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.” C. S. Lewis

From helpless and naked to spouting feathers for flying in only two weeks at Farragut State Park

"Mama we're hungry"

The good-mother robin I’ve been watching the past few weeks is now raising three chicks. The first time I visited her after they had hatched, she dive-bombed me. After quickly snapping a photo I left the scene. The second time I came, she sat on a tiny tree four feet from the nest and gave me a concerned, dirty look. The third time, she sat on the same tree, but seemed more peaceful.

Her growing chicks mouths were about all I could see at first. The birds are born naked and helpless, depending completely on their parents for warmth and nourishment. They now have feathers and look almost ready to leave the nest, a process that takes only about 13 days. It’s been an awesome joy daily watching this transformation.

I suspect this is my mother robin’s second brood of the year. When I first discovered her nest a fallen portion of an earlier nest beneath it contained remains of an empty egg shell that appeared to have hatched. Robins can raise three broods in a good year, and can live up to 14 years – if Mother Nature is kind to them.

It's getting a bit crowded in the nest

Most, however, don’t survive beyond about 7 years, and only about 40 percent of chicks reach adulthood. Magpies find baby robins quite tasty, as do snakes, cats and many other predators.

Considering this mother robin’s attentive care, I suspect her babies may have a higher percentage rate. And whether that’s true or not, the optimist in me will continue to believe it to be so.

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“You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you do not trust enough. — Frank Crane

The faithful, trusting robin ... Photo by Pat Bean

It’s magic. I’m standing eye-to-eye, three feet away from a robin sitting on a nest. She’s looking straight at me and I’m talking to her quietly. “And how’s the good mother this morning. What a good mother you’re going to make.”

She stares back at me, hopefully understanding that my heart wants only the best for her. The trust I see in her eyes tells me she at least understands I mean her no harm. I’d like to know how many tiny blue eggs she’s sitting on, but I’ve never seen her nest untended. To get any closer I believe would destroy our human-bird relationship. So I patiently wait for the day when I can count hungry gaping mouths. That’s assuming of course, the eggs are successfully hatched.

It’s the fourth morning in a row that I’ve visited this faithful mother-to-be. Her nest sits on a three-inch brick ledge on the side of the Visitor Center at Farragut State Park near Couer d’Alene, Idaho. Another robin has a nest on a ledge on the back side of the building. She flies away at the first sight of me coming around the corner 30 feet away. I see fear in her eyes as she watches me from the top of a nearby tree. I stay away from her nest. I don’t want to worry her more.

I wonder why she fears me so and why the other robin is more trusting. What different lives they must have led, I think as I reflect on my own life. I don’t give my trust easily or often. Life taught me not to do so.

Meanwhile, I’ve told no one here at the park the location of my trusting robin’s nest. But its easily seen and accessible ledge offers it little protection. All I can do is hope others who spot it are worthy of the same trust the robin gives me. I also hope one day to share a picture of tiny robins sharing a nest that sits on a brick ledge.

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