These rapidly-maturing fledgling robins are crammed into a nest above the porch for our side door. I suspect their mother was dismayed, after carefully weaving her nest in what looked like a secure location, to find humans sometimes live here and use this door as their main entrance. Whenever we entered or left, she'd retreat, squawking in a worried fashion, to the closest fence or bush. But she stuck it out, and has nurtured her azure eggs into greedy little offspring, who poke her feathered backside with their insistent beaks while she still patiently lends them her warmth.
It's not entirely suprising that she would endure, because in a way we're friends. Last year, the same robin -- identifiable by a white patch on her breast from some old wound -- made her nest on my old blue canoe, which had been tied to the side of the garage for winter storage. So, once last year's brood took flight, she migrated a thousand or more miles south, and then somehow returned here, to the same property, and made a new nest.
I see her doing the robin dance on our lawns: Hopping along, cocking her head to one side -- did you knw that robins can hear worms moving in the earth close to the surface? -- then suddenly tugging a reluctant brown and wriggling breakfast out of its hole. Robins sing after rain, because flooding forces their favourite prey to the surface, and it's smorgasbord time.
Birds really are remarkable -- not only for the colours of their plumage, or the delicious meodies they add to their air, but for their evolution. Scientists now think that birds are the descendants of the dinosaurs that walked the earth millions of years ago. Dinosaurs also seem to have been warm-blooded egg layers, and it's well known that some of them (like the pterodactyl) eventually learned to fly. Massive, earth-trembling tyrannosauruses and brontosaruses have morphed into delicate, musical beings that co-exist quite well with people, when we give them a chance.
Perhaps there's hope yet for humans, too.
Causes John Oughton Supports
PEN International, Amnesty International, League of Canadian Poets, POR AMOR, Greenpeace