Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The robins just can’t win

Bird lovers be warned, you may find this post offensive.
We have a burning bush that sits in front of our porch, directly within the line of sight of the kitchen window over the sink. As the primary chef in our house, I spend a whole lot of time in front of that window.
Since early in the spring, I’ve been watching this pair of robins build a nest in the bush and attempt to raise their young. I watch them fly in, land on the railing to the porch and merrily hop into the bush with their beaks full of bugs and worms. I have a great view; the nest is just about four or five feet in front of the window.
The robins are great parents, both of them flying to the porch rail and one will wait there patiently with its beak loaded while it’s mate dives into the bush to feed the little babies. I’ve really enjoyed watching them.
Earlier this spring, the robins had a full nest with healthy little baby birds until one day, they all disappeared.
“I think the cats got ‘em,” my husband said as we discussed the sudden absence of the baby birds. “I saw that black cat crawling around behind that bush the other day when I was mowing my lawn — I think she was going back to make sure she didn’t leave any meals behind.”
“That’s horrible,” I said. “We really need to trap those cats.”
Sidenote: we have some feral cats running around the neighborhood. I was going to try and do a spay/neuter and release earlier this year, but I didn’t realize how time consuming and expensive that can be.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that the robins didn’t give up or move away, but decided to give parenthood another shot in the same nest. I continued watching them, making sure the babies were still in there and hadn’t been made into any more kitty meals.
Yesterday, Sensi was outside doing his routine after-dinner potty break and I noticed he was taking a lot longer than usual. I peeked my head out the front door and there he was, his face smashed as far through the porch railing as possible and his nose quivering at the scent of the baby birds.
I walked over to him and looked in the nest. I could see the two babies were nearly ready to leave the nest — there was practically no fuzzy feathers left and all they needed were some more feathers on their wings and tail and they’d be ready to go.
Sensi jumped up on the railing to get a better view.
“There really is something in that bush because Mom’s looking too!” he reasoned, but still didn’t seem overly excited. Sensi is pretty gentle around small living things, even frogs.
He began walking around the porch to check out the nest from the other side of the porch, but he wasn’t hurrying and so, I didn’t hurry to pick up the chain either, figuring I had plenty of time to stop him and doubting he’d do anything to the birds anyhow.
I was wrong.
Once he was under the bush, he nudged his head upwards and shook the branches, catapulting both baby birds out of the nest. One fell in the grass to the right but the other unlucky soul gave his best attempt at flight, which only served to activate my dog’s prey drive.
By this time, I had a handle on the chain and was pulling my dog toward me, but it wasn’t doing any good — both the dog and bird were headed my way too.
Sensi leapt up at the bird, not really grasping it in his mouth but rather pushing it and catapulting it further into the air. The bird was tossed about five feet and landed on its back on the hard concrete of our driveway. The poor little fella never moved again.
I hastily lead Sensi back inside and ignored him for the rest of the night. He ruined the only thing I enjoy about washing dishes — watching those darn birds. I so wanted to see the robin’s have success this time around.
The other baby bird was fine. I watched as each parent swooped in, checking it out and calling it to hop across the yard to safety. They moved that little baby far, far away from the dog’s potty area. Smart birds.
I’d like to think that little baby bird will make it another week or so until it can fly, but I know how things go. We have cats, raccoons and all sorts of critters that would love such an easy meal.
Poor robins just can’t catch a break.
Meanwhile, I ignored Sensi for most of the rest of the evening.
“I can’t believe you killed my baby bird,” I told him. “Bird killing is bad!”
He sulked all night.

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