The agitated twittering of a family of robins in the cluster of birch trees near my bedroom window woke me from a fitful dose at 10:00 pm last night. Something was obviously amiss. Daylight in Alaska not withstanding, most non-predatory birds are tucked in and very quiet by this time of night.
Leaves were rustling, both in the tree and in the undergrowth, mostly low bush cranberry, as the squawking and cheeping continued for nearly 20 minutes.
My sleep-addled brain decided that one of two things had happened. Either the two chatterbox nestlings had [unwisely, IMO, but who asks me] chosen that time of night to fledge, or more chilling; one of the nestlings may have fallen from the nest. I was pretty sure this duo were close to fledging, as mealtimes had become more and more raucous this week.
I’m certain the bug and insect population in my yard has dramatically decreased, if those baby robins had any say. But without eyes on the actual nest, I could only listen and wonder what was happening. There was no way I was venturing out into the undergrowth on what would surely prove to be a vain effort. Besides, at that time of not-quite-night, there would be mosquitoes. ‘Nuff said. They were on their own.
As silence finally resumed, I rolled over and once again attempted slumber. I remember hoping sleepily that none of Alaska’s predatory critters were nearby.
With the new day barely underway (7:00 am); bird-song, including cajoling and impatient cheeping, resumed. Only now it was even closer at hand.
Rhonda sleeps the deep sleep of the innocent, and hadn’t yet twitched a whisker.
As I looked out the partially open bedroom window in the RV, there was Mama Robin, strutting purposely across the grass alongside the RV. About three hops behind her came an adorable, if noisy, adolescent robin.
I’m guessing this was the newly ousted (whether intentional or not) fledgling from the night before. They have the cutest stripes – better camouflage, I imagine, but this one was cheeping so loudly, I’m pretty sure camo would not have helped if a predator was nearby.
Mom robin continued to march onward without so much as a glance back. The youngster continued demanding, well, whatever it was he wanted. Maybe breakfast, maybe a lift back to the nest?
A tad worried about what seemed to be an earth-bound baby robin, I started out the door in PJs and slippers – and BARELY reacted quickly enough to forestall Rhonda from beating me outside! Yikes! I thought she was still sound asleep. Yeah, right.
Ronni is actually really well-trained not to go out the door, or even to the inside step to the door, without permission … but she had spied (and obviously heard) the baby robin. Prey drive sometimes (alright, often 🙄) trumps training.
I dropped my cellphone (sorry, no baby robin pics), bundled Ronni up in my arms while grabbing for a leash, and together, we quietly followed Mom and chick (hmm … is a baby robin a chick?).
It was interesting and entertaining, and I’m happy to say, Ronni seemed content enough for the time being to just watch from my arms. The Mom obviously had a plan, and it did not immediately include breakfast.
She stayed several feet ahead of her squawking offspring as we hung well back and followed her up the driveway towards the barn. When she got close enough to the metal fencing of the goat pen, she flew to the top (52” high) and chirped in encouragement.
The not-quite-fledgling squawked and hopped in circles.
You could literally hear it in her voice; “Here’s a nice low, very stable bar to land on. It’s not very high. Come on, spread those wings.”
Mom flew back down. When the youngster rushed towards her on quick little legs, Mom flew back to the fence. “Chirp!”
The little one danced in circles again, which had Ronni wiggling in my arms. Maybe it was a good thing … as Ronni gave out a low “woo woo woo” of frustration, the young robin, startled, leapt into the air, wings beating hard.
Prey animals have just as good instincts as the predators that hunt them. Mom robin, seeing her offspring leave the ground, took off again, landing on an adjoining fence about 20’ away.
The baby, having discovered his wings would actually carry him aloft, took off instantly after her, still chirping for all he was worth.
As the duo chirped and scolded their way from the fence to the low branch of a nearby birch tree, and then finally swooped together across the pasture and out of sight, I set Ronni on the ground.
As I smiled and pondered nature’s complexities, glad the Mama robin had managed to get this early-bird into the air, Ronni was darting in circles, happily following the obvious (to her nose) track of a previously vulnerable baby bird.
Fair skies, little robin. It’s time for coffee.