We didn't notice until too late that a pair of robins had decided to build a nest on the light fixture beside our front door.
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 Mama 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.
Mama 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 right at me, daring me to try to open that door again.
I finally gave up and went away.
Later that afternoon, when our oldest son dropped by, we discovered that Mama Robin was still on the nest and still very annoyed when bothered.
As our son 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 spots on his car when he was leaving. :) Yes, Papa Robin was also in the tree.
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.
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 Mama Robin.
I promised her we wouldn't bother her any more than was necessary.
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 also started 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 before they came up to our house so Mama Robin wasn't inconvenienced for long.
Getting the newspaper each morning was the biggest problem. I'd start by trying to see if Mama 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.
Or his head.
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. Kind of frazzled, to be honest. The other robin looked sleeker, and a bit smaller.
If you look really closely at the picture below, you can see Papa Robin sitting in one of his favourite spots—on a branch of the tree right in front of our house.
Over time, I realized that Papa Robin was always somewhere in the area.
- In one of the trees out front
- On the grass on the other side of the street
- On the grass on the median or our lawn, presumably hunting for worms
- Perched on the roof of the house on our right, out of my view
- On our roof, again out of my view
And, of course, he was sometimes on the nest or on the bannister, guarding the eggs while Mama Robin took a break.
Our unexpected tenants first came to my notice on Monday, May 5th, 2014.
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 from time to time, feeling bad every time I opened the front door, and trying my best to only open the door when I couldn't see an adult on the nest (although I wasn't always successful).
Mama Robin 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 fly back to the bannister 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.
Were we inconvenienced by our tenants?
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 Mama and Papa 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 Mama Robin is sitting on above, you'll might wonder where on earth we live. As in, did we live in a shack?
No, our house was fine. But after thirteen years, the wood on our front banister had begun to rot. We'd intended to hire someone to come and dismantle the banister and put in a new one that year.
Of course, we couldn't even consider doing something like that while the Robins were still using their nest. And we hoped to get a glimpse of the babies!