Category Archives: Robins

Baby Robin’s Regimen

My mother says I have to learn to preen and groom myself. She’s sitting up in the walnut tree, watching for danger while I fix up my feathers.

I’ll start with my throat and shoulders.

Then the right armpit …

and the left armpit.

Looks like that one needs a better job done on it. I think I broke out in a sweat when that crow flew over. Better give myself an extra preening there.

What are you looking at? Can’t a bird have any privacy?

Oh, I see! You think I made that mess on the fence rail? I have no idea how that got there.

Just check that shoulder again.

Now this one is really tricky. You have to be able to bend a lot. No problem for me!

One last good stretch to help my wing muscles grow,

and I’ll be soaring with the falcons. Well, maybe not the falcons, but soon I’ll be able to keep up with mom and dad.

Here I go!

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The Lookout

The Captain has been working on the hull of the boat at the annual haulout. He’s had to take the boat to a haulout facility several hours’ run from home.

The work is nearly done and I think he’ll soon be home.

Do you think that could be him coming into the bay, Mr Robin?

Well, Admiral Anneli, I can be your lookout. I’ve got a good view here, but I don’t know…. I see a boat, but it could be anybody.

I sure hope it’s him. The lawn needs mowing. I need him to come home.

I wouldn’t get my hopes up if I were you. Could be anybody. Lots of boats around here.

 

It’s a fishboat, but it’s too far away to tell if it’s the Captain. No … maybe not ….

I’ve got good eyes, but I can’t see that far. I’m not an eagle, you know.

What do you see now? Are you looking around the corner?

Yes … I’m just making sure he finds his way into the harbour.

Can’t be the Captain then. He knows his way, no problem.

Probably not him then. Better get that lawn mower fired up yourself.

So Admiral, when do you think he’ll be home then?

Oh, any time now. Soon….

Harrumpfff! Why don’t you just mow that lawn before it rains? Don’t you know it’s harder for me to find worms when the grass gets too long? My children are depending on me to bring them food.

That’s the last time I’m going to bother worrying about the Captain coming home. I don’t care who cuts the grass as long as it gets done. I need access to those worms.

I only stopped to rest my wings

And not to worry over things.

The railing seemed a perfect place

I stood there tall with style and grace.

A fishing boat was cruising past,

Perhaps the Captain, home at last.

The Admiral needs a helping hand

To cut the grass that’s on their land.

It suits me fine to have him back

As things ’round here are kind of slack.

Let’s hope the next boat in the bay

Will be her Captain home to stay.

For a while….

Cool Days for Baby Robins

Everyone knows what robin’s egg blue looks like. We often use that term to describe a pretty shade of blue, perhaps on some piece of clothing or a paint colour, but I think it looks best on the shell of a robin’s egg. I found this half shell two days ago on a cold miserable day when the little bird that hatched out of this shell probably wished he were back inside it.

It is a testimony to how tough the robins are, when they risk nesting so early. It is also evidence that they  need as long a growing season as possible for the young birds to grow to adulthood before the fall.

I took this picture of the egg shell when the sun was shining through the living room window for a few minutes that day.

Later I took another picture with the robin’s egg on a piece of white paper, next to a chicken egg as a size comparison. Somehow the “robin’s egg blue” colour looked more faded and greener. What a tiny egg it is, when you consider that the baby bird will grow to be the size of a robin.

“That’s my boy,” the robin chirps. “He’ll grow up to look just like me!”

As a point of interest, this photo of the robin in the dogwood was taken on April 29, 2016.

This year on April 25, this same dogwood tree is just getting tiny leaves and there is no hint of flowers yet. What a difference in temperature. It’s a very long, cold spring this year.

One Potato, Two Potato

When I dug up a potato plant in my garden, I was hoping to find:

One potato, two potato

Three potato, four….

But it seems that something found the potatoes before I did. My not-so-good old friends, the ten-lined beetles, mainly in their larval stage.

Here are my Pontiac potatoes, half eaten by the ten-lined beetle larvae. I could have cried!

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Ten-lined-June-Beetle

Near each eaten potato, I found the larvae of these beetles.

 

 

Ten-Line-June-Beetle

Don’t they all look like they’ve eaten too many potatoes?

Beetle larvae

I’ve had to do a lot of extermination as I dug potatoes. My foot was the quickest way to deal with them. Where is a robin when you need one?

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So far, the only way I can think of to get rid of these potato eaters is to put all my garden through a soil screen, and watch for the smaller larvae that might fall through the mesh. I’m very frustrated. What to do?

Where is Walt?

The baby robins are out of the nests and hopping around behind their mothers. Life is not a Disney movie though. This is the most dangerous time for the young birds, as they have no experience or sense of what might harm them. Their flight feathers are not fully developed so they can’t escape predators as quickly as they might need to.001

They don’t realize how vulnerable they are when they relax in the birdbath.

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Yesterday the Captain and I put some netting over the strawberries because the first berries were turning red. I know from one bad experience many years ago, that birds sometimes get tangled in the netting and can die of exhaustion trying to escape, so I made a point of checking the netting every few hours.

First thing this morning, a mother robin was sitting on a garden fence post and I checked to see if any birds were eating my strawberries. Under the netting was a young robin. It must have walked in at the far end where my garlic is growing so high that I didn’t think I needed to fasten the net down. You see that I now have another board lying crosswise halfway down the raised bed, to hold the net to the ground. But this morning I had to rescue the young bird. He was so light and delicate when I held him in my hand. I could feel his warmth. I’m sure he was happy to fly away unharmed.

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Now the story takes a sad turn. Well, it depends on whose point of view you take. This falcon, a merlin, moved into our area three years ago and has been nesting here ever since. He (or she) fed his/her family tonight and I could have cried when the merlin flew across our backyard clutching a young robin who was shrieking pitifully. I wondered if it was the one I had saved only that morning. The merlin family is happy; the robin family is not.

Where is Walt Disney when you need him?

Nature is cruel.

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Dogwood Time

Straight out from my bedroom window, in our dogwood tree, a little robin sang, “Winter’s over. We survived another one!”

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Did you know that the Pacific dogwood is the provincial flower for the province of British Columbia? Its flowers have four to six petals. That in itself is unusual, as probably the most common number of petals for flowers is five.

While researching the number of petals on a dogwood, I came across the term “Fibonacci Numbers.” The number of petals on most flowers is one of the Fibonacci numbers, but the dogwood only sometimes complies. The Fibonacci number sequence is named for Leonardo of Pisa, also known as Fibonacci, for introducing the concept of these numbers to the western world in the early 1200s.

The Fibonacci sequence is 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144 …

Can you guess what the next number is going to be?

I was amazed at how it works. The next number is always the sum of the previous two.

I think someone used this sequence to figure out the rate at which rabbits breed. I think, too, that Fibonacci must have done his research in my backyard.

Math and nature are so connected, it never ceases to amaze me.

A Bug is a Bug is a Bug

With the new fence around my garden, the area was bigger than before, so I had a bit of sod to turn over for the first time. The soil under the grass was almost pure sand but I would add to it and gradually turn it into better growing soil. As I dug up the sod I came across pests that I put aside to feed the robins.

We’re hearing a lot in the news about the European chafer beetle (Rhizotrogus majalis) having been brought to our gardens in western Canada, but the prawn-like larvae from my yard will change into  ten-lined June beetles (Polyphylla decemlineata) which must be a cousin of the chafer beetle. They look the same in the larval stage. 002

You’ll see cutworms and some other thing in a maroon coloured pupa (maybe they’re cutworms in the pupa stage, I don’t know), but most of the treasures being served up on the green platter are the ten-lined June beetle larvae.

These larvae eat the roots of grass (and other plants, I presume), so they are not wanted in my garden. I’d rather fatten up the robins.

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Here is a short video I took of a robin eating my beetle larva offerings.

 

Doesn’t it just make you want to go out and order a plate of prawns?