I discovered the robins' nest above our front door on May 5th, 2014.
On the morning of May 28th, I came downstairs and, as usual, checked to see if an adult robin was sitting on her nest before I opened the door to get the newspaper. If an adult robin was there, I would usually wait until the nest was empty so as not to disturb the birds.
I stood back toward the left side of our door (your right here) and looked through the window at the top of the door.
I could usually, but not always, catch a glimpse of the adult bird's head when it was on the nest. If I wasn't sure, we have a small stepstool I often brought over to help me see.
No sign of an adult.
I began to open the door as slowly and quietly as possible in order to grab the newspaper. But just as I began to move, my eyes happened to glance out the window on the left side of the door.
I stopped dead and looked closer.
During the summer, we have a plastic chair that sits in the corner. I've no idea why it's there, because no one actually ever sits in it. But it's useful for setting things on before you unlock the door or when a courier drops off a package.
On the arm of the chair perched a bird. Not an adult robin, but a large fuzzy baby robin.
My first thought was that maybe the baby bird had fallen out of the nest. I'd always dreaded that—opening the door and seeing a dead baby splattered on the cement.
But the baby seemed to be okay.
My next thought was to wonder what had happened to the adult robins.
Where were the baby's parents?
I stepped back and looked up at the nest again. No sign of an adult robin, but I could never be 100% sure.
I moved to look out the window on that side of the door nearest to the nest.
I had never seen the adult robins on the ground before, but sure enough, Mama Robin was on the cement landing, only a few feet away from the baby.
And she was looking at the side of the door that opened.
I wondered how good the adult birds hearing is. Because it seemed to me that Mama Robin knew I was watching.
After a few minutes, I left them there and went to get breakfast.
A short time later, I came back and found the baby still on the chair and the mother bird on the post. She was looking all around in her usual frenetic manner.
And, of course, keeping an eye on me.
I still wasn't sure if the baby was okay.
But as I watched, the baby flew over and perched near its mother on the bannister railing.
I sighed. All was apparently well in Robinland.
After taking a few pictures, I went back up to my office to do some work.
A while later, I came downstairs and noticed that the baby robin had flown down to the walkway, off the steps. I decided it was safe to open the door a crack and grab the newspaper that was lying right next to the door.
As silently as possible, I unlocked the front door and began to open it.
Both parents flew into the air shouting in bird language. Mama Robin must have been on the nest and Papa Robin on the grass just out of sight.
Baby Robin flew up, too, and all three of them perched on the tree in front of the house, both parents chattering away as if telling me what a clumsy oaf I was for disturbing them.
So much for thinking I could get the newspaper without the birds noticing them. But I did get the paper.
The rest of the day, I checked occasionally, and the three of them were still in the area, either on the lawn or in a tree. At one point, the baby flew up and perched right on the ledge of the middle living room window as the very moment I was looking out of it. Unfortunately, I didn't have my cell phone at that time.
Night came, and while I wondered about them, the only thing I could do was hope they'd be okay.
Where was Mama Robin?
Where else? Sitting on the post she had flown to so many times after we'd disturbed her. The post from which she'd often looked me in the eye as if daring me to try something.
She was keeping watch, swivelling her head all around, making sure nothing was going to bother her baby.
When I came down the stairs the following morning, my eyes, from habit, began to look up, preparing to check the nest for the mother bird. But something stopped me.
On the narrow ledge of the window above the door was a dark silhouette.
I ran and got my stool from the kitchen so I could get a closer look.
Yes, it was the baby bird.
I looked toward the trees. Yes, father bird was in the area, too.
Over the next hour or so, the baby bird stayed on the window ledge, moving a few inches now and then.
At one point, I saw Mama Robin in the nest.
But later on, I looked out, and they were gone.