They’re common. They devour the ripening fruit just when we want to pick it. They argue with our windows until you can’t see out of them. Yes, robins are loud, argumentative and without them in the yard – it would be a sad, silent spring. They are part of our lives but we sometimes don’t realize it until something jars us awake.
Whether it’s early in the morning or just as the shadows begin to lengthen, the singing robins immediately lift our spirits. They proclaim that the “lazy, hazy days of summer” are just around the bend. A reader’s phone call reminded me of this and made me aware that the robins haven’t been singing with their normal enthusiasm. The caller’s problem was even greater. No robins were singing in his yard and for the second year. He missed the early morning symphony.
I don’t know why his robin population has dropped so drastically. Hopefully, it will soon rebound. It’s been about two years since the robins were abundant. They were disputing nesting territories throughout the yard. This meant a lot of singing. Maybe this is just a normal dip in their population. Bird numbers do rise and fall on a regular basis depending mostly on food and nesting success. The past two cold, wet springs haven’t favored nesting robins.
It seems late, but I am happy to announce that we finally have at least one pair that is expecting. The female has built her nest about three feet from the living room window. Lucky for us, the male never attacked the window but she did. That was something new. If all robins used her method there would be less frustration in the homes where a robin is beating on the windows. She would arrive at the nest with her beak full of grass, moss and twigs. Before leaving for another load, she bounced lightly off the window as if warning the “intruder” in the window’s reflection. “There, take that and stay away from my nest!”
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This chance to observe a nesting bird at eye level and close distance has us making plans for watching and photographing the event – without disturbing the birds. The photographer in the family has plenty of camouflage gear. He has covered the entire window (on the inside) with a large piece of camouflage, the kind you use as a blind. These have numerous small openings in them and move in the breeze, even when it comes from a heat vent. It hides us from the birds and accomplishes something more. The female stopped swatting the window as soon as it was in place. Apparently the camouflage pattern disturbed the reflected image enough to accomplish this. Most of the time, hanging a sheet or anything on the inside of a window doesn’t work because you still see the reflection on the outside. Robins who think their reflection is an intruder in their territory are very stubborn.
Our robin event is just beginning. “Sitting” began several days ago and now it will take 12-14 days before the eggs hatch. After that, the babies won’t leave the nest for about two more weeks. In the meantime, there will be crows to keep an eye on and hopefully there won’t be any gully-washers to drown the birds. Most of all, my hope is that the young will stay in the nest the way they are supposed to! Robin babies, for the most part, consider themselves to be precocious, but they aren’t. When they leave the nest too early the parents aren’t the only ones that get upset.
Robin activity in our yard has taken an interesting turn, but that is to be expected from these special birds. You never know what they will do. Here’s hoping they find more reasons to burst into song as the weather grows warmer.
Write to Joan Carson, P.O. Box 217, Poulsbo, WA 98370. Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a reply. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.