Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Robin's worry

Christopher, my black cat seen here, waits to be allowed out. He woke me at 5 this morning, patting my shoulder with one velvet paw. I suddenly realized that I was listening to the "Buck buck buck" sound of a robin (above) calling to its fledged young. Was Christopher telling me Eleia, my other cat, was out on the deck?

Would she find the baby on the ground? I raced downstairs and brought her in. She will stay inside most of the day and hopefully by that time the baby will be strong enough to fly to safety.

Robin babies often spend at least 24 hours on the ground after they leave the nest - flying short hops from here to there to gain strength and confidence. So many of them don't make it since they are truly vulnerable during these early stages.

Robin parents call repeatedly to the baby - I'm assuming this is an encouragement. However I've heard a frantic calling from them which I also assume is a warning - danger danger - specially when I walk close to the baby or there is some other presumed threat. Of course I get dive-bombed by the parents who make a huge fuss trying to divert me from their wee one.

Bluebirds also do this alerting and encouraging their young. There is a pair of these tiny harbingers of happiness brooding in one of my nest boxes at the moment. So exciting to see the flash of turquoise as they search for flies, grubs and other insects in the lawn grass.

Fledging of all birds is both heartwarming and heartbreaking, since so many baby robins, bluebirds and several ground nesting species like meadowlarks, bobolinks and red-winged blackbirds seldom make it beyond this grounding day. Conversely, I've watched baby swallows fall out of their nest boxes, but their wings pop out like mini-parachutes and they swoop into the sky - "Look Mom - I can fly!" Then the whole family dives and floats, swoops and skims the tops of the high grasses - pure delight to watch.

So if you see a baby robin on the ground - it might just be in the first stages of fledging - not necessarily unable to fly, but only able to fly a short way. Give it room and watch... one of nature's little miracles.

cheerio for now -

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