Last spring we didn’t notice until too late that a pair of robins had decided to nest on the light fixture outside our front door.
The moment of discovery involved opening the front door to pick up the newspaper, and jumping when something flew squawking from just above my head to the tree in front of our house. A bird. A robin to be exact. I looked up at the light fixture. Uh oh. A nest was hidden behind it, with the edges peeking out.
I told Mrs. Robin that she was okay, and I went inside, shutting the door.
There are vertical windows on either side of our front door so I stood back and watched. Mrs. Robin soon flew to the post right in front of me and perched there, on the ready, peering in every direction for several minutes. At one point I was sure she was staring at me, daring me to try to open that door again.
I finally gave up and went away.
Later that afternoon, when one of our sons dropped by, we discovered that Mrs. Robin was still there and still very annoyed when bothered. As he came up the front steps, she shot out of the nest and flew toward him, just above his head, chattering all the way, to land on the tree and keep chirping like crazy.
He thought it was funny. Well, at least until he noticed the fresh white spot on his car when he was leaving. :)
Les thought it was funny, too.
I, on the other hand, related to the mother bird.
One of my strengths as a novelist is the ability to get into the mind of my characters and feel what they feel. And I easily put myself into the mind of the mother bird. After all, I’ve had four babies of my own, not to mention a number of grand-babies. I know how a mother reacts when danger of any kind threatens her child. So I felt bad for Mrs. Robin.
Since we normally park our car at the back of the house, we didn’t bother her when we left the house or returned by car.
I started also going out the back door whenever I went for a walk, and encouraged Les to do the same.
If I knew people were coming to visit, I either warned them to go to the back or made sure I opened the door quickly so Mrs. Robin wasn’t inconvenienced for long.
Getting the newspaper each morning was the biggest problem. I’d start by trying to see if Mrs. Robin was on the nest. If I stood in the right place, and if she was sitting with her head up, I could sometimes see her.
In this picture, her head is on the right, just above the light.
I realize that male robins may take a turn at sitting on the nest.
But the robin who stared at me frantically from the post seemed to look the same each time to me.
However, if you look closely at the picture below on the right, you can see Mr. Robin sitting in the right upper corner. Although I didn’t notice him at first, I soon discovered that he was pretty well always somewhere in the area. Sometimes in one of the trees out front; sometimes on the other side of the road; sometimes on the ground, presumably hunting for worms; and sometimes perched someone else on the right side of our house, out of our view.
Our efforts to accommodate them in their efforts to raise their babies went on for over three weeks, with me keeping an eye on the nest and Mrs. Robin, feeling bad every time I opened the front door and trying to do it when I couldn’t see her on the nest (although she was usually there anyway).
She did get so used to me that although she’d fly off to the tree when she heard the knob of the door turn, she’d also fly back to the post the second the door was shut. Then she’d turn in every direction, looking a little crazed, with wild eyes, until she was satisfied the danger had passed and it was safe for her to return to the nest.
Oh, did I mention that she was complaining loudly the entire time? Technically, she was probably trying to distract me so that I didn’t notice the nest. However, it sounded like complaining to me.
If you count the number of times I checked to see if all was clear before opening the door, or felt bad because I or someone else had disturbed Mr. and Mrs. Robin, causing them to fly crazily to the tree and making her sit on the post staring around for several minutes, then yes, it was somewhat inconvenient.
However, there was actually a bigger problem.
If you look closely at the banister Mrs. Robin is sitting on above, you’ll might wonder where on earth we live. As in do we live in a shack.
No, our house is fine. But after thirteen years, the wood on our front banister has begun to rot. We had intended to hire someone to come and dismantle the banister and put in a new one.
Of course, we couldn’t even consider doing something like that while the Robins were still using their nest.