Naturalist (2021-07)


It began in April with a pair of American robins taking over our porch. They stood on the back of chairs (messy) and pecked loudly at their reflections on windows (smeary).

Then we discovered nest construction in the trellis outside the kitchen window. “We’ve got neighbors! All the while the robins were taking advantage of the rich wet springtime, hopping and worm-slurping in the yard. 

She’s sitting on the nest!“ And with occasional forays to the meadow for worms, there she sat. Snuggled down into the nest, peering out at the world. And she sat and sat.

Then the eggs hatched. “What amazing little creatures. So squiggly!

For days the nest seemed to be a repository for worms as both adults tirelessly flew back and forth.  
Soon the three chicks consumed all of the space in the nest. “It’s like magic: they drop worms into the nest and the eggs turn into little birds.” The adults now stand to the side of the nest as they continue to shove worms into the yellow-rimmed mouths. 

The chicks are flapping their wings!” And then, that very day, one by one, they flapped and hopped to the nearest tree branch. 

We learned a lot. Incubation times, food preferences, fecal sacs, etc. Didn’t know about fecal sacs, and we saw Mama eating the thin white sacs several times. “Nature’s diapers!

When I finally sat on the porch to write this down, a fledgling robin stopped by to visit for a while under my chair.

Some dominant emotions: 

  • Stupefying amazement to see this simple unfolding of life.
  • A renewed and deepened appreciation of all of the neighbors we have around us. We’re surrounded!
  • Sadness as the fledglings leave. We’re empty-nesters!
  • Renewed hope. Life goes on despite human foibles and flaws.

Rob Harris, SWS Class of 2020
July 6, 2021

SWS invites you to submit an observation or a story about something you see in nature. You can send a photo with a caption, or a longer essay, or a poem. We seek words or images describing something in nature that moves you or motivates you, that you would like to share. With much appreciation to Rob Harris for kicking this column off. 

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