Spring is in the air, the days are getting longer, and my faithful hound Xena is beginning to draw out our walks. It is a magical time of year, when new life is breathed into the earth. Everywhere you look there are signs of renewal and new birth.
Our neighborhood is in a suburban setting; but the land use planners were kind enough to leave natural beltways and undeveloped areas all around us. The result is that we are blessed with more wildlife than other parts of the city. This holds particularly true for avian life. My early morning canine-led excursions come with a soundtrack now. As we work our way up and down the hills that surround the house; our steps are melodically choreographed to the chirping of birds, greeting the emerging sunrise.
On any given morning, I can easily find several dozen birds in the back yard. Some are sunning themselves, perched on the fence. Others are pecking away at the dew-softened turf, hoping to have a worm breakfast. Typically the birds take little notice of me; going about their instinctive routines. About a week ago, that idyllic daily scenario was completely altered.
Over the course of the past month, I have observed a fair number of robins gaining significant weight. I could only presume that they were pregnant; a natural conclusion given that it is springtime. A couple of these birds had been spending an inordinate amount of time and effort flying under our second floor deck. Upon further investigation, I was able to see that two nests were under construction just on the edge of the wooden underside.
This morning I went out on the deck with Xena, after having cranked out a forty-five minute journey throughout the neighborhood. As I felt the warmth of the sun caressing my upwardly turned face; I could not help but feel that I was being watched. My middle-aged puppy was down in the yard, rummaging about with her nose in the grass. There was nobody to be seen in any of the neighbors’ back yards either. Then I spotted the cleverly hidden spy!
Up on top of the fence, partially obscured by a tree branch, was a robin! It was staring directly at me, observing my every slightest motion. I was captivated by the intensity of the bird’s eyes, as they locked with mine. I quickly realized that I will never beat a Robin in a stare-down contest. Turning side-ward to check up on Xena, I moved towards the deck railing. As my hand came to rest on the wood, a deafening chirping sound echoed across the yard!
My head spun around to see the robin chirping wildly, its wings anxiously flapping and its head bobbing up and down quickly. I took a few steps back and the shrill sounds relented. The robin was back to staring intently at me. Out of curiosity, I decided to step back towards the rail. The only accurate description I can give of the resulting event is the bird lost its mind!
By then, Xena had worked her way up the steps and was thumping her paw against the sliding glass door. I had to get my business day started and went back inside as well. I could not help but glance back into the yard. I just managed to catch the robin taking flight from the fence and swooping down under the deck. It was then that I made the all-too obvious connection; bird-nest, nest bird!
Later that afternoon found hound, man, and mother-in-law’s cat all out on the deck. It was break time for all of us. As I took in the crisp smell of a slight breeze blowing in towards our trio, I heard a loud swooping sound. We had just been given warning by a dive-bombing robin! Over the course of the next quarter hour; the angry bird flew precariously close to the dog, the cat, and even me!
There could only be one answer; there were now eggs in the nest! That would explain why the bird was acting this way. It was a she, and she was protecting her unborn offspring. Perhaps what struck me the most was the robin’s apparent lack of fear. Cats are natural enemies of birds, and this one was already batting a paw upward towards its new-found nemesis. The hound could easily eat the bird in a single bite. And forget the fact that I am easily tens of times larger than the robin.
Reflecting on today’s events, I have awakened to what is driving this particular bird. She is passionate about protecting her eggs, at any cost. That passion trumps any sense of fear she might have. I have to believe that the robin would give her life if it meant saving her future descendants! For now, this soon-to-be mother is living with a single purpose!
How many of us are so passionate about someone or something that we would sacrifice our life for them or it? How many of us are so singularly focused on the moment that all distraction ceases to exist? How many of us have our priorities firmly set, with no compromise to be had? How many of us simply exist, rather than live life to its fullest?
Come to think of it, how many of us could stand to learn a life lesson from a simple robin?