Snacks, Sadly


Just outside my bedroom window is a rhododendron that has a little history of its own. Twenty-two years ago, my neighbour planted several small rhodos in front of his fence on the road frontage. Our soil is very sandy here and when the deer came along to nibble on the leaves, they would invariably pull out the whole plant. The scenario goes like this: I’m arriving home and across from my driveway I see a rhodo uprooted, lying there dying of thirst and heatstroke on my neighbour’s frontage. I get out of the car, pick up the rhodo and go knock on the neighbour’s door. I present him with his casualty, he thanks me, and I go on down my driveway.

Next time I come home from town, the scene is repeated. The deer have nipped the newly planted rhodo and pulled it right out of the sandy soil. I get out of the car, pick up the rhodo and go knock on the neighbour’s door. I present him with his casualty, he thanks me, and I go on down my driveway.

The third time this happened, I brought the rhodo to his door and his son was visiting. He took the rhodo from me, grumbled, “Thanks,” and tossed the plant to the side of the house.

I felt bad for the poor rhodo. I’m sure it died.

Next time one of the neighbour’s rhodos was pulled out of the ground, I picked it up, put it in my car, and drove the rest of the way down our long driveway. I planted it in front of my bedroom window and watched it grow for twenty-two years. Sadly, none of the neighbour’s rhodos survived. My rescued rhodo thrived.

Here is what it looked like last spring.


A couple of weeks ago my husband discovered a robin’s nest inside the foliage of the rhodo, and today I upset the parents long enough to steal a photo of their home and children.




Now for the sad part. Every year the robins try to raise their chicks in our yard because we have a lot of trees and shrubs. Every year I have to watch as the crows steal the eggs or worse yet, the chicks once they’re hatched.

crowThis year, the crows have been hanging around as usual, even nesting in some of the tall fir trees next door, just waiting for the robins to hatch so they can snatch the babies to feed to their ugly nasty children. I would agree that everything has to eat, so the crows should be forgiven, but crows will eat anything, they’re scavengers, so they don’t have to eat robin babies.

The other sad thing is that this year the sharp-shinned hawks have been nesting in a grove of trees nearby and they also love to kill small birds. It upsets me, but I can accept this as they are limited in what they can find to eat. They’re not scavengers.


 Still, I hate to think that these poor baby robins will most likely become snacks. It has been several years since a robin has been able to bring off a hatch here and have chicks survive. One couple even nested three times last year in an attempt to raise babies. Only the crows were happy.

31 thoughts on “Snacks, Sadly

  1. Life cycle. Rescue. Repeat. Only the crows eat. Anneli, your insights bring a smile and awareness to my day. Thanks. Mired in finals, submissions, Nepal prep and story writing here. Asked to contribute to a book and contribution was due today. Thank you for the spring detour. Hugs, R


  2. The cycle of life is never easy to accept… yet I’m surprised the robins keep on trying in the same place… most birds I know, or that live here. would move to another nest site and try again… this is actually fascinating now that I think of it… do Robins nest and raise their young together or does a male spread himself around a bit with multiple wives?? This could say so much about the continual attempted breeding in the same spot…


    • The male is around to defend the nest. They seem to stay paired up. I guess this is “survival of the fittest” in action. Luckily, the robins that nest in the wooded areas away from town still do well. The crows hang around more where there are people (and garbage), so the robins in the “real” forests still do well. There are several nest around our yard, but this one is the most obvious to us and the closest. I’ve seen the crows fly off with eggs from other nests in the backyard already this year.


  3. My neighborhood is infested with crows…. literally hundreds of them form a dark cloud every evening flying back into the trees where they slumber. As I sit up on my deck in the trees I often see smaller birds such as blue jays, mocking birds, finches, even pigeons, fighting off the crows as they attempt to steal their young. Like you, I don’t feel so bad about the hawks that circle around. But it is hard to watch when they snatch a squealing baby.


    • Oh! Wouldn’t I love to do that! But there are people walking around here all the time and if they saw or heard a gun they’d freak out and send me to the loony bin and throw away the key. Except for that, I’d gladly do it.


    • I’ve seen hawks take songbirds from my birdfeeder and felt very guilty for attracting the birds. Almost felt like I was helping the hawks lure them in. If the young robins are hopping around on the grass (and they’re very stupid in the early days) both crows and hawks will pick them up. I’ve seen both do it other years.


    • They belong to the crow family too, don’t they? I guess their behaviour would be the same. I wish I could “discourage” the crows here, but it’s too built up now. Twenty years ago it wouldn’t have been a problem, but now you can’t sneeze here without someone calling to tattle.


  4. Very sad how cruel nature can be sometimes. But they all have to eat, (even the ugly ones). The pictures are superb again. I love those birdies a lot, just like you do.


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