Robins Outside the Window by Mary Behrle




Prose


 


image009

1. There seemed to be many more robins in our yard this spring. One robin caught my attention as she collected bits of dry grass and flew into a rhododendron bush below our window. Through the leaves I saw a nest, already constructed of mud and straw. It was attached to an adjacent branch with what looked like a plastic tie, the type that might secure a bundle of wood. The mother placed the straw in the bottom of the nest and pressed it down, shaping it with her bottom.

image010

A few days later, there were three eggs and the next day four. When the mother left to feed each hour, I was able to open the window to get better camera views.

The mother sat and tended the eggs for about 12 days. She sometimes rearranged them in the nest before she sat.

The eggs begin to hatch.

image011

I opened the window when I could, afraid that the mother would see me and fear for her newborns. I caught a glimpse of her one of those times, glancing at me out of the corner of eye from the ground as she gathered food. The father would also watch from the ground when she was away from the nest.

 

2.

image013

Three days old. Quadruplets just six feet away from me!

image014

Four days old.

image015

Six days old. The mother continued to sit on them when she was in the nest. She left only to gather food. I saw the father help her feed the hatchlings and take discards from them.

 

3.

image017

Ten days old. The latchkey quads waited patiently for their meals.

image018

The mother fussed over the babies. It seemed that the first mouth to open got most of the food!

image021

Eleven days old. The soggy babies sat under a leafy umbrella.

There were many rainy May days that produced an abundance of worms on the lawn and in the adjacent woods.

image022

Baby fuzz turned into feathers. It was amazing to see how quickly they matured!

 

4.

image023

Mom’s back with breakfast!

image024

It began to get very crowded.

image025

Could she see me? I waited with the window open and the camera poised and there she was!

image026

Twelve days old and testing new wings. The next day they were gone. I saw them in the morning; there was no trace at suppertime. Did they go off one at a time? Did the mother watch over them as they did? I was so disappointed to have missed it!

The mother returned that evening, looked around, and picked at the nest bottom. She seemed to miss them.

 

5.

image027

Less than two weeks later she was back. I had not been checking the nest so was surprised. I had read that a couple can have two or three broods in a season.

http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/american_Robin/id

image028

When she left to feed, there were two new eggs.

image029

Two days later there was just one. The nest seemed undisturbed; I have no idea what might have happened. Did a predator get one? Did the mother know that one was not thriving?

More rain. The remaining egg was in a pool of water. The mother continued to sit on it.

image030

The branches began to obstruct my view of the nest. After a few days, I moved them away with a broom handle. The nest was empty. I wondered if the rain water had damaged the egg. The mother was gone without leaving a note. I missed her.

 

Mary Behrle is a librarian. She’s officially retired, but works at times as a library consultant. She lives in Massachusetts.