Goslings and Robin Chicks

May and June are marvelous times of new birth. The earth is alight with the colors of spring flowers, and penetrating the air are the sounds of birds starting new families.

Mid-May we spent four days at a friend’s cottage up north. I cannot convey in words how peaceful that was. There were, of course, plenty of Canada geese around with their newborn goslings.

One of the mornings we saw a family swimming past under the dock. However, the following morning, the adults honked and squawked for quite a long time. It was so different from the quaint line swimming by on the previous day. And then we saw them: two adult geese, still crying, and no goslings in sight. We could only assume they were the same two adults, and that their screaming was about their babies gone for someone’s breakfast (coyote? fox? bobcat?).

Then we drove home to find a robin had made a nest in our front porch plant pot. A couple weeks earlier, we’d discouraged nest building by removing the plant gathering two or three times a day. But being gone for four days not only allowed new nest to be build, but there was also a beautiful blue egg inside it. Too late to evict the bird. The following day, there was a second egg, then a third and a fourth. We started going out our garage door instead of the front. Babies were babies.

Two weeks later, June 2, they started hatching. New life was fascinating to watch from our kitchen window. There were two, maybe three, adult robins bringing worms to the chicks. I’d sneak onto the porch for a quick shot now and then when the adults were off worm-hunting. I was amazed with how quickly the feathers started growing.

   

Suddenly, after just two weeks hatched, they started moving about the nest, stepping ontop of each other, watching a bee fly past, scratching their necks, mostly crying out for more food, but also trying out their wings without leaving the nest.

This was also the time we noticed neighborhood cats on the prowl. Did you know (from a 2013 study) domestic, free-ranging cats kill about 1.5 billion birds and 6.3- 22.3 billion mammals each year?

Saturday morning, there was only one fledging, chit-ing for food, and hopping from pot to pot to railing. And repeat. An adult robin brought him four worms, then flew to the nest, poking around for about a minute before flying off. Had the other three flown off? Did cats get them? Having not witnessed their departure, we simply don’t know.

Saturday afternoon, the nest area was vacant. Again, we hadn’t seen what expired, but hoped it wasn’t the bird.

Sunday afternoon (yesterday), as I was typing this post, I heard the distinctive “chit-chit-chit” near our front door of a robin chick. I checked the nest from the window. Empty. I stepped outside, barefoot, in 58 degree weather to try to follow the sound. It stopped before I could determine the location. Plus, my feet on the cement were getting cold. So I stopped my search.

I’ll never know what actually happened to the four robins, but it was an honor to witness new life from egg to fledgling. I wish them well.

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