I wrote this several years ago and was reminded this morning watching the robins building their nests and thought I would share it with you.
When spring comes, the American Robin returns, I can remember hearing, “Spring’s not far off I seen my first robin today.” Here is the Northwest it is such a thrill to see that first Robin. Spring brings with it an end of winter. After months of gray dreary skies (a cold dampness that penetrates to my very bones and so much rain) I sometimes wonder why I have not grown web feet, it is good to know winter is all but past. It is wonderful knowing that the Robin expressive song will be the first thing heard at days first light and the last one singing as evening sets.
Come February the American Robin returns here to the Northwest. They flock in together. I observed a behavior here a few years ago that I had not realized until I saw it with my own eyes. I have learned they will assemble in a large flock and fly into one bush or tree to roost for the night. The first time I watched this, it seems so strange. I observed several dozen robins had congregated on our front lawn. Then all of a sudden, they all flocked into one of our Rhododendron bushes. I had no idea they did this.
Once I had become aware of and observe this it seems to be a common natural occurrence. This is of course before they disperse in pairs for mating and building their nests.
I love to watch all the different species return for the season. Taking the time to just watch, study, and see things for myself. It amazes me how our feathered friends do things. For several weeks now, since early spring, I have been watching several robins gathering victuals, the necessities that is needed for their hatchlings to grow and be healthy.
I observe them, hoping that they do not become conscious of this fact. They have kept me very busy, trying hard not to be noticed. We have three different nests in the vicinity of the house. I do not want to intrude on their space. I would feel extremely sorry if because of my actions, my eavesdropping would distress anyone of them.
I take a moment and marvel about all the dedication the male and female have from beginning to end. They have worked tirelessly, finding and carrying natural and artificial material to build their nest. They find long course grass, sticks, twigs, hair, a variety of mosses, reeds, feathers and so much more to make their nest.
They both gather all the materials it will take to make the nest, the females are the one to take all the gatherings as they come in and construct the nest. Once she is finished, making the outside of the nest, she plasters the inside with mud and she will line it with grass or other natural material for cushioning. Working diligently for hours unending until it is complete, getting it precisely how she wants it and when finished it can weather any storm.
She has designed her nest for incubating and protecting the eggs she will lay. The eggs, laid in a clutch of three to five, are uniform in size and have a striking color of greenish-blue. From the time they start their season, usually February here, she will do this two to three times in the season. The nest is abandoned once all chicks have left the nest and a complete new nest will be built for each new brood.
It takes 14 days for them to hatch, once hatched she will take the empty shells and discard them well away from the nest. She wants no tale-tale signs that there is a nest in the area. Once hatched add another couple of weeks and the chicks will leave the nest. Their wings are not developed enough for flight; it will take yet another couple of weeks for full flight. They can have short little flights hardly off the ground, they have to wait until their wings are fully developed and have all the feathers needed for full flight.
Right now, the female and male are busy feeding their brood. They are coming and going with worms, then beetles grubs, caterpillars, fruit and berries. Our salmon berries are in full season, the bright yellow berries are ripe and plump. I watch the parents gathering the salmon berries, they take the time to enjoy a few before returning to the nest for the next feeding. The parents are coming and going continuously during the day.
When they first leave the nest, the parents stay with the little one teaching the chick its life’s lessons when they know it is time they leave it to its own. It will not be long before I will see them on the ground hopping around and begging its parents to come and feed it. However, they are on their own. You can see the male and female from the tree branches; they stay with them, well beyond where the little chick could make a return, but they will observe and scrutinize from a good distance until the little ones takes flight.
It is a site to watch them stretch out as much as it can to try for that salmon berry low on the branch, but still just out of reach. Try as it might, it just cannot quite get it. Once having tried several times, it sits back and calls for mom and dad to come and feed me. The cries are heard, but they do not relent to come and help the chick. It is on its own and needs to learn how to fend for himself.
Now if it was in danger of a cat, hawk, eagle and so many other things that prey on the little ones, the parents, even other robins will come to defend the little one. It will soon learn how to get the berries just out of reach and to find its own worms. I take note they leave the nest very plump and healthy. They do not any of them starve and all seem to stay plump and healthy. They are ready at the end of the season to join the flock and start the migration south.
Robins, what do they have to do with us? When RudiRue (my grandson) comes to visit, he is a very inquisitive child. His curiosity is wonderful; his inquiring about all things that he sees is a wonderful opening to teach that life of nature is not or should not be much different from us humans. He probes us on everything; we are ready and willing to answer all his questions. He loves walking our trails and our beach as much as his Mema. Gramps is like a walking encyclopedia. He is willing to answer any and all of RudiRue’s questions (mine too!).
When Gramps and RudiRue return after an afternoon out with their walking sticks and a backpack of snacks now emptied from all the different animals in the area, he is so excited to recite back everything he has witnessed and the how’s and whys and can even name the different funguses that grow here and that is many. He retains everything. I am so ecstatic that this child loves to walk, to run and play. To learn and keep hold of those things that he has such great interest in. The only way to go from here is to keep adding to his repertoire. He is learning firsthand the similarities between nature and us humans.
When and why did humans quit observing nature, to live our lives, scrutinize our lives like that of the robin, I think that is when we started to fail our children? RudiRue does not watch television. He does not play the video games; he does not eat cookies and chips and drink soda pop. He is happy with an apple or a bunch of grapes as a snack. He asks for a glass of water. I am very blessed that he does not realize how the other children are allowed to live their lives. RudiRue does not have a weight problem. He can stretch out and reach for the good in life. He can run, jump, and not be breathless.
I loved to read to RudiRue, we together would draw pictures and put together words for his first book. He was so proud of his book he wrote. He told his Gramps he was an author, he was the ripe old age of three.
I think if we humans study nature and raise our children as the Robin does, they teach the chick all the things needed to survive. Then they let go. Maybe if we took the time from infancy and taught our children all the values of life including diet, and give them all the education they would need they would be ready to face the world. Teach them the values of money and the difference between what a need is and what a want is. They will be ready to leave the nest when the time comes. They will be prepared to face this world on their own.
Hopefully we have loved them, taught them the difference between right and wrong, what morals are, a good strong faith foundation, how to eat and stay healthy and to maintain a strong mind and body. Give them all the tools and equip them with all the things that are important, so they can be productive adults. They will be able to help themselves but also to help those that cannot help themselves. This would lead to a stronger, more determined, prolific life and self sustainable human for humanity itself.
Add to the list of why we have endangered species, and how that same thing affects us humans. The environment, pesticides and toxins and chemicals look what they have done to our nature and look at what it is doing to our health. We need to try as hard as we can to take that time to teach all avenues of life to our children. The time needed to raise a child, even though it is scarce, find it, give the attention, knowledge to those little ones while they are still in the nest. They will then be able to help themselves.
Gathering and flocking together is so much different from parents raising children who are in there 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. I know there are those extraordinary circumstances that we cannot foresee or maintain, but with raising, the little ones and giving him-her all the armor needed to face the world; maybe we can help prevent these situations, and conditions from going out of control. Teach them in all security measures, the difference between need and want, needed is a safety net, saving accounts for those rough times that we all face at one time or another. Wants can be put on hold indefinitely.
We need to equip our children from the foundation up with faith. Teach them so that they know the difference between right and wrong, too that they know helping themselves is the first step to being a productive adult. Give them discernment; let them know shrewdness and prudence. Pray that they are filled with love, confidence, common sense, education, are strong and healthy and know how to stay that way. Give them the insight that they can cleave out that which has harmed humanity. Let them learn what compassion, empathy, kindness and charity are. We can hope and pray that they can see all that was created from our maker and to learn from each. Let hope they are grounded and always growing in faith.
We can each hope and pray for a good strong flight for each little birdie!….
She has laid her eggs and is taking a break. Once in a while the male will sit on the nest to give the female a break. …