About Me

My photo
I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

So far, so good

Yesterday found a juvenile robin on the ground at the edge of our meadow garden. Still in the speckles-and-eyebrows stage, this bird was definitely too young to be out of the nest, but it was very lively--the explosion it made out of the grass when it saw this large thing lumbering around startled me--and very vocal, cheeping at great volume for someone to get it out of its predicament.

Whenever a young creature like this shows up, my first reaction is always to want to DO something, but all the online advice regarding juvenile birds is to leave them alone unless immediate rescue from the jaws of a neighborhood feline is in order. In this case, an adult robin was issuing distress calls from the closest tree, so I assumed that a parent was on the job and would attempt to craft a solution. I was right.

Repairing to the porch with a book (Susan Fenimore Cooper's Rural Hours, a nineteenth-century nature journal, in case anyone needs a relaxing summer read) after dinner, I noticed an adult robin perched on the feeder pole with a cicada in its beak, scanning the yard. "Aha," thought I. "It must be looking for that baby," and it was, sort of.

Taken at 7:30 AM through a pet-resistant screen

This parent robin was sneaky. The afternoon's adventurous middle-schooler (or whatever the avian equivalent of a twelve-year-old is) had found refuge in the ailing rhodendron next to the porch, a decrepit shrub with scrawny stems the same color as the feathers of a young robin, with lichens mimicking the colors of  its speckles. I discovered its presence only when the adult robin perched on an outer branch, and the juvenile moved to take the cicada, a process repeated several times before dark. The adult would sometimes return to the feeder pole and fly away with its prey in its beak, whether because it had other young elsewhere (and given the profligate reproduction of robins, this is quite likely) or because it hoped to distract potential predators from this vulnerable offspring, I never discovered. But the young bird was fed and hidden for the night, pretending to be a fat rhodendron twig.

Given the number of predators (cats, raccoons, skunks, hawks, jays, crows, and probably more) in our neighborhood, the chances of any particular individual juvenile of a prey species surviving in such a situation are not great. As of 6:30 this morning, however, the little bird was still there, and I can hear it demanding food even as I type. If one or more of its parents survived the night, this one has a good chance of surviving to populate the yard with more robins.

11:00 AM update. The baby is gone--no corpse or feathers anywhere.

No comments: