Every spring here in Pittsburgh it is the same old thing; man v. nature. Who will win this year man or Robin?
This exercise has been waged for many years on my patio outside the kitchen. Mamma Robin is desperate to create a nest and settles over the speakers above the grill and begins to make a terrible mess of the outdoor kitchen. pieces of wood, leaves and dead plants are meticulously formed into a nest which I judiciously destroy as soon as it is started. Year after year it is the same tango and I always come out victorious. Shameful isn’t it?
Last year I preempted this tradition by putting spikes on the speakers so that there was no comfortable spot to build. It worked and the summer of 2014 was blissfully clean and calm. As the early spring pushed away the cold and snow of 2015 “She who has no clothes” (except for those in five closets in two states) began to watch silently and unbeknownst to me while Mamma was indeed back again but more the wiser, building in a window box in plain site of the breakfast table. “She who” had a straight line of site to the growing nest just over my shoulder as we sat at the breakfast table. One day the nest was complete and I was stuck because Mamma deposited three little blue eggs. I do not have Manson-like tendencies so I let them all live…but I was not happy about it.
We both watched intently as Mamma flew off to do what Robin’s do all day as they hatch their eggs. Struck by the absences and the length of them we questions often where that harlot was all day. Asking ourselves why she would abandon her eggs; then nature began its steady march to birth. She began hanging in there more as the days went on only leaving the nest for an occasional stretch of her wings or for a terrified escape when we opened the door. Fearing that it was hurting the nesting we took to going outside through another door so as not to interrupt the process.
“She who” grew up on a farm, I in the city, nature was an unseen thing for me. We became very curious about the process and extremely involved in these births. The curiosity part was fun until the stress started. Not only were we anxious about the births but also concerned that the Ferrell cats in the neighborhood might sniff out the nest. Then one day I found two of the hatched chicks unceremoniously dead on the patio floor in all their gangling pinkness. Good thing that I married a farm girl who had no problem picking up the corpses. Two down one to go!
We opined that the nest might not have been big enough for three chicks so Mamma did the survival of the fittest thing and 86ed the weak links. Now it was her chosen chick that began growing in the nest. Baby Robins are not oil paintings, quite possibly the ugliest creatures I have ever seen. The growing up process is amazingly fast. One day there were wings flapping in the nest and then some semblance of feathers and an insatiable appetite. Feeding trips were constant leaving precious time with me and the chick. He was not afraid of me as his Mamma was. He would just stare at me when I got close to his nest. Mamma screeched from afar but the baby just looked.
“Man are you ugly” I heard myself say aloud one day. Baby had somehow gotten himself off the floor of the nest to the back edge where he just perched and stared. More stress…what if he were to tumble out, who would pick him up? “She who” was out of town and I was not about to rescue that sucker.
And then it was all over. Gone!
Mother and chick checked out of the window box hotel, walked the check and disappeared. The very neat bed was disposed of promptly and the adventure was over. The only thing left is the STRESS AND CURIOSITY and these 700 words.
…I just think about this stuff!