If you were to come to our front door today, you would see two pansy baskets hanging in the front stoop area. One is perky. The other is droopy and wilted, but with good reason. Mama Robin declared this pansy basket was hers, and no matter how often my husband discarded the beginnings of a nest, there is now a perfectly formed nest with two eggs in it. Obviously, watering the pansy basket is out of the question.
I am sorry to disturb Mama Robin as she sits on her eggs peeking out over the pansy blossoms, but she has chosen, after all, a busy location. Whenever I get the paper or the mail or just need to leave the house, she flutters away and scolds me. Instead of her usual cheerily, cheer up, cheer up, cheerily, cheer up call, I am likely to hear something more strident. A mother's frustrated, "Just what do you think you are doing?" I do understand, for I know how long it took us to find our new home, and when you know it is right, well, it's right.
Robins seem to build nests where we can enjoy them, too. They have adapted to civilization, accepting people as neighbors and regarding our structures as logical places for their nests. They seem to think we are delighted when they build their nests over our doorways or on a wreath on the front door or under a garage overhang. This is the price we pay, I guess, for eagerly awaiting the first robins of spring. They have become our neighbors as much as the family across the street with four kids and a dog.
Connecticut, Michigan and Wisconsin all claim the robin as their state bird, and the European robin is Britain's national bird. Calvin Simonds in his book Private Lives of Garden Birds says, "The American robin is much more properly our national bird than is the bald eagle." He continues:
The bald eagle is representative of America's predatory
and scavenging frontier past. The robin represents our
conservative, contemporary present. He's the bird of
Main Street--neither the struggling downtown part of
Main Street nor the part on the outskirts of town where
it threads its way past gas stations and restaurants and
passes under the interstate. The robins' world is the part
of Main Street that passes through comfortable neighbor-
hoods where quiet lawns stretch out under the shade of
oaks and maples and perhaps even the delicate fronds
of an elm. Here the robins strut on the lawns and protest
indignantly at any disturbance to their domain. p. 98.
I consulted a couple bird books and once the eggs are hatched--only two in this case and normally, there are four--the babies will be in the nest for about 14 days. Mama and Papa will scatter the pieces of the cracked egg shells in places outside of their territory in an attempt to fool any predators, but that won't work with me. I will continue to disturb and worry them every time I open the front door. I wish Mama could understand I mean them no harm, and they are welcome to stay as long as they need to, but her protective instincts are strong and she will do what she needs to do to care for her offspring.
I must admit, however, as much as I am enjoying observing this seasonal surge towards new life, I wish I could sit on the front stoop and enjoy these spring days, which seem to have finally arrived. All in good time.
What signs of spring have invited your attention this year? In what ways have you been invited to watch and wait? I would love to know.