I came to a realization today that there is a great similarity in the behaviours of robins and people as each raise their offspring. While the robin hatchlings were in the nest, the parents nurtured and cared for them, only getting into a flap when the children were in imminent danger.
When young children are living at home, their human parents nurture and care for them, only getting into a flap when the children are in imminent danger.
This morning the robins were in their nest; this afternoon they’ve left their relatively safe home and have gone out into the world. The parents have been frantic many times today, as they watch for dangers, real and perceived. It must have taken weeks off their lives as they cope with higher blood pressure, stress, and exhaustion, but they remain vigilant every moment of the day and night.
When teenagers leave home to go live on their own, their parents try to bury their frantic anxiety, and soon find themselves popping blood pressure pills and not being able to sleep at night in spite of being exhausted with worry about what their children might be doing now without their parents to guide them and keep them out of trouble. On top of that, the parents are lonely and at a loss for how to fill that space that is now empty in their nest.
It’s a relief for me to have the robins out of the nest in the rhododendron because these last few days it has been a bit chilly in the evenings and I so much wanted to turn on the heat pump for a little burst of heat. But as you can see, the heat pump is right by the rhodo and I didn’t want to frighten the birds by turning on the noisy contraption, so I suffered rather than scare the birds.
I was shocked to see the empty nest this morning. I spun around looking for baby robins lying on the ground, half pecked to death by crows, or flapping weakly, trying to get back into the nest, but no babies were to be seen.
And yet, the parents were terribly upset to have me there looking at the empty nest. I thought maybe the babies had crawled under the Alberta spruce that is now almost covered by the rhodo. Who would have thought that the
“rescue rhodo” would have thrived like this, overshadowing other plants around it?
But then I noticed the large patch of broom at the side of the yard, and what a good hiding place that is for small animals in general and baby robins in particular. So if you think that broom is a nuisance plant and are bent on eradicating it, as some misguided local groups are, please think twice before you get rid of it all. Why not leave some of it, at least, for the benefit of young birds that need a place to hide until they grow stronger? Natural edge effect is very important for the safety of many animals.
The proud father sits in the dogwood tree nearby, guarding the secret hiding places of his children. He needs a break from the near heart attack he had just a half hour ago when the sharp-shinned hawk who is raising his family 500 meters away, came looking for some tender morsel of a little bird hopping around naively on the grass – a snack to feed his own brood. What a ruckus the opposing parents made. The high-pitched deeeeee-di-di-di-di of the hawk and the freaked out PIP, PIP, PIP of the robins had me running to the deck to help by waving my hands madly. “There are plenty of mice for the hawk to eat. Leave my babies alone!” But who knows what tomorrow will bring?