Wednesday, March 26, 2014

If You Feed Them...

Mars and I saw the first robin of the year on our property early this morning.  It was a male and he was pecking angrily at the ground under our bird feeders – scattering sunflower seed hulls, mulch, and leaves in all directions in an apparently unsatisfying search for sustenance.
This is definitely not the initial robin sighting of the year for us.  We have seen “mutations” of robins – that’s what a group of thrushes is called – on various public and private grassy areas for the past several weeks.  A couple of days ago Mars reported an assemblage of them looking like an overpopulated Alberto Giacometti sculpture of people passing but never meeting.

Evidently our solo visitor is scoping out his nesting site for the upcoming breeding season.  We usually have at least one pair of the redbreasts: along with a cardinal couple; multitudes of sparrow or finch matings; and, last year, a hawk duo who left abruptly in mid-season after an evidently unsuccessful attempt at parenthood.  Plus there is always a few “drays” (or “scurries”) of squirrels hanging around.
The neighborhood, including our yard, is thick with trees of various heights and leafiness. (Past robin tenants have been particularly fond of our next-door neighbor’s Star Magnolia – unfortunately at a height from the ground conducive to invasions by curious cats and more curious children.) And we keep our sunflower feeders filled throughout the year. 
 But more importantly our yard is decorated with a profusion of berry-bearing perennial bushes (including our blueberries which we now donate almost exclusively to our avian visitors).  Also, because we organically care for our lawn, just under the surface live several “beds”, “clews”, “bunches”, or “clats” (your choice) of plump, protein-rich worms – the quantity and quality of which I assume our prospective tenant was window-shopping for this forenoon.
And of course the aforementioned hawks, should they return, get to choose from the full menu of their fellow nesters.
Given the current ground temperature I suspect that the long, slender, soft, burrowing, invertebrate animals the robin was seeking are still hibernating.  But, temperatures will rise and our ectothermic residents will spring to life. – if not for this robin, then for another. 
If you feed them, they will come – and many will stay.

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