I’m back from summer camps, and I plan to write up my experiences from the second week, but a lot happened (all good) and I haven’t yet processed it into a linear format. So in the meantime, I want to tell you about one of the oddly synchronistic experiences that has happened to me since I’ve been home. I’m telling you about this one first because it’s the cutest 🙂
Tuesday evening, I was feeling restless. It’s hard to adjust back to a desk job after running around in the woods for a couple weeks. I went out for a bit of a wander around the neighborhood as it was getting dark. I wandered around and smelled people’s flowers near their front walks. I watched a buck and doe wander down the street, meandering from apple tree to apple tree in various front yards until a dog chased them off down the street. Eventually, I circled around towards home, it being nearly completely dark. There’s a house a few blocks from ours with a really big front lawn, as as I started walking past it, I noticed a 20-something girl in the front yard. It took a minute or two for me to walk past the width of the yard, and just before I turned the corner out of sight of the girl in the yard, she called out, “Excuse me…”
I paused, and she came over to the edge of the lawn with something in her hands. “Um, I know you’re just out for a walk in the neighborhood or something, but, umm, I have this baby bird and I was wondering if you know what I should do with it.”
She has in her hands a complete nest with a gawky little baby robin in it. The robin is sleeping soundly, taking slow even breaths, and seems content. He is fully covered with downy feather, but definitely hasn’t fledged yet. His flight feathers are just starting to come in, but they are still in the shaft. His beak is by far the biggest part of him. It turns out that the landlord was there cutting down some trees on the property earlier in the day, and the nest and baby had fallen out of a tree when it came down. The parent birds were around then, but the people didn’t know what to do with it, so they hadn’t put the baby out where the parents could find it. Of course, at dusk the parents had gone to roost and weren’t around any more.
The girl’s name was Christina. I told her that I have a wildlife rehabilitator friend that I could call. I thought that the parents would come back in the morning and look again, but I didn’t know how long baby robins could go without eating, or if he was old enough to keep himself warm though the night outside. I called Tammy, and she confirmed that if we could get him into a nearby tree near dawn that the parents would probably be back. But they definitely wouldn’t fly at night, and the baby should be kept somewhere warm and quiet for the night. He wouldn’t need anything to eat for the night, but if the parents hadn’t shown up by 9am or so, he would need food and I should bring him in to her. Neither Christina nor any of her roommates was able to be there at dawn or at 9am to check on the little guy, so I took him home and he slept peacefully in my craft room for the night. Preston and I got up at 5am and took him back to the house. Preston climbed up in the tree nearest the one the nest had come out of and hung it up there in a hanging planter box.
Preston walked back home to go back to bed, and I settled in to watch the nest and see if the parents showed up. Nearly right away I heard a lot of robin commotion. Lots of chipping, and a call that I haven’t ever heard from a robin before. I couldn’t tell if it was coming from the baby or from one of the two adults circling the general area. Sort of a high-pitched squeeling whistle. One male and one female bird spent a long time checking out the whole area. They landed on the stump of the tree that was cut down and peered into every nook and cranny of it. They seemed to see the nest in the adjoining tee, but they didn’t land on it. Afer 20 minutes or so of patrolling the area, they seemed to start hunting. One or the other of them was always in sight of the nest in its new location, while the other would do that little robin dance (scurry scurry, head tilt…scurry scurry, head tilt) across the lawn, or would fly into the nearby trees. I watched one eat two whole salmonberries off the bush. After another 20 minutes, I was starting to worry that they weren’t going to feed the baby, but just after I started to wonder, I saw the female robin stop briefly on the nest and seem to feed something. I wasn’t sure, so I hung out another 10 minutes or so until she did it again and this time I got a better view and saw for sure that she had been handing over some food.
I left feeling pretty good about the world, and like that is the sort of meaningful work I want to do. I left a message on Christina’s phone letting her know about the success, and also tipping her that in a week or two the little guy would probably fledge and she shouldn’t worry if she sees him on the ground then, but if she sees him out of the nest or on the ground and there are no parents around, she should feel free to give me another call.
Interesting that this is the second close encounter with a baby robin I’ve had this year. Maybe I should do some looking into what robins are all about.