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Bird Town

 

We used to have a colony of feral cats in the backyard at my building, or so I’m told. Over the past few years, the feral cat population has been gradually dying off, or leaving town, without being replaced. There is only one cat who has come by this year – I’ve seen him twice now – and he is a huge grey and brown cat, who looks like he may have swallowed one of the local raccoons. I tried to take his picture, but he faded into the background so well that all I could see were his eyes flashing back at me through the camera. As a result of the decreasing cat population, though, the local bird population has been exploding.

We have two, very loud, bird families living adjacent to our apartment: one under the air conditioner in Mom’s bedroom, and one under the air conditioner in the living room. Mom says they chose those spots because of how the air conditioners are set up, with a piece of wood on the window ledge, allowing for a hidden nest. But I think she was just looking for a nice way to explain why there was no bird family under MY air conditioner. The fact is, Mom likes to feed the birds – there was a frenzy over the bowl of poppy seeds she put out a few months ago, and the leftover Passover matzo was a big hit – so I’m pretty sure that she’s the draw.

A few weeks ago, we started to hear the baby birds squawking in their hidden nests, their voices gradually lowering each day, but still crying out for food, hour after hour, when their parents went out to hunt and gather. For Mother’s day, Mom shared her chocolate crepes with the bird family in her bedroom window, and in exchange, the parents agreed to pose for pictures.

mommy sparrow

Mommy Sparrow

daddy sparrow

Daddy Sparrow

There’s something about all of that squawking and singing that brightens the air around the apartment – though Cricket finds the babies’ voices a bit hard to get used to, and she really doesn’t understand why they get to eat chocolate crepes and she doesn’t.

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“Harrumph.”

There’s another bird family in the back yard. In one of the Rhododendron bushes, just below eye level, a Robin made herself a nest. At first it seemed like a strange place to choose, but as the flowers have blossomed and the leaves have spread, the Robin and her nest have become very well hidden. I have to bend down to get to eye level with her, and it’s almost impossible to get a good picture of her, through the leaves and flowers. Once her nest was finished, she proceeded to deliver four beautiful blue eggs, one each day, and then she sat herself down to wait.

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Really, she’s in there.

robin's eggs 4

And so are they!

I stopped by to say hello to her a few times a day, when I took the dogs out for their walks, and I made sure to ask her how she was doing, and how the eggs were coming. I even put some of Butterfly’s kibble down near the nest, but not too close, in case she didn’t appreciate sharing a dog’s food. I had the strongest impulse to grab one of those blue eggs one day, and had to clench my fists and walk it off. I decided to manage the pull I felt towards that nest by stealing pictures of the babies, instead of risking the temptation to steal the babies themselves.

As I left for work on Tuesday morning, I checked the Mama robin as usual, and she was standing instead of sitting on the nest, and I wondered why (and asked her). That’s when I saw two baby bird beaks lifting into the air. I went back inside to tell Mom that the babies had arrived, and to get my camera. I got a picture of side eye from the Mama Robin before she flew off, and then a few images of blurry pink shapes with white hair puffs here and there, because the babies were sleeping in a tangle and hard to distinguish from one another.

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Mama Robin gives good side-eye

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Blurry Robin babies

I try not to check on the babies more than once a day, but it is fascinating to watch them as they separate into identifiable individuals. Mama Robin keeps flying away when I arrive, landing in a nearby tree and squawking at me from a distance. She seems to have recognized that I that I’m not a danger to her babies; at least I hope she knows that. I choose to believe that she’s just running away because she’s worried that I’ll catch a picture of her on a bad feather day.

Even mommies can be vain.

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Robin babies on Day Two

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Robin Babies on Day Three

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Robin babies day 4

 

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

117 responses »

  1. You are an ornithologist! And quite a good photographer. I enjoyed this post so much.

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  2. The photos are amazing, Rachel! I have never seen baby birds that small before. And who know robin’s egg blue was so….blue!! Great photos.

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  3. Those are the bluest robin eggs I’ve ever seen. Come visit my blog today, and leave a comment!

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  4. You are so kind to your robins! (My Dad treats them as Bill Murray did the groundhog in Caddyshack.) Can’t wait to see more of the babies as they grow.

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  5. Those photos are wonderful! I’ve always wanted to see robins-egg-blue shells.

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  6. I love the Robin eggs. Wow. your pictures are wonderful.

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  7. How beautiful and special! I love the pictures!

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  8. Very nice collection of photos!

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  9. SQUAAAAAWK!!!!!!!!!

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  10. What a fun post. They are so cute!

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  11. Wow! The colour of those eggs is amazing. And so are your photos.

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  12. Very interesting post and great photos, I enjoy seeing wildlife pics taken in other countries.

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  13. Lovely post. The first year we lived here, birds hung out in our Rhododendron bush, but Detroit (my dog) figured out a way to sneak up on them from behind. After she grabbed a few, they moved to higher ground. A feral cat took up residence in the bushes waiting for the babies to fall from the nest (so Detroit had a cat and birds to monitor). Nature is great! Thanks for the lovely pics.

    Reply
  14. A lovely piece. Animals enrich our environments and a positive impact on our spirits.

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  15. This is a fantastic set of photos Rachel!!

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  16. I so totally get your fascination with the bird families…we also had bird families in the Canterbury back yard every year, and I waited and watched the developing story lines.
    Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy – it’s the best reality show around.

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  17. How wonderful! I hope all four babies survive.

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  18. Aww my gosh, those robin babies are cute. Good shots 🙂

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  19. Great documentary, Rachel! Loved the baby pictures 🙂

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  20. hairytoegardener

    Aren’t those babies sweet! And the eggs are such a beautiful blue. I know robins nest around my house but I’ve not actually seen one close up. Thank you!

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  21. Miracle of life beautifully captured!

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  22. Awwww! ❤ That is so very sweet. I heard from Cricket in this post, what does Butterfly think of all this noise and her mommy's fixation on fluffy little things with big heads? Thank you for sharing! 😀 I love robins, they are perhaps my favorite bird! 🙂

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  23. Great theme and pictures to match. Love it Rachel.

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  24. Wow! These pictures are amazing! The blue eggs are really beautiful.

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  25. Lovely story, thank you.
    In our neighborhood, we have flocks of escaped parrots and parakeets, who squawk from tree to tree … so loud!

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  26. Well my husband had to plan C to finally prevent the sparrows from nesting under our bedroom air conditioner. Now the window is covered with salvaged fencing, but the birds have finally relocated to,the thick hedge. He couldn’t take the squawking. Only one cat around here, so they are safe, just annoyed. My sympathy with Cricket about the crepes.

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    • Cricket has never understood the ban on chocolate. I mean, what’s so terrible about running around like a crazy dog and then throwing up all over the place? Mommies just don’t understand.

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  27. I just this morning read an interview with Margaret Atwood, who talked about the destruction cats wreak on wild birds…and
    she is a self-professed cat, person, too. Have you seen her graphic novels about a man who
    accidentally has his genes spliced…and becomes part cat, part bird, part man?

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  28. Great pictures and the bright blue eggs are very surprising, I didn’t think they were that dark. I would have a difficult time restraining myself to once a day. What a miracle.

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  29. Great shots of the babies!

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  30. This post is beyond wonderful Rachel!!! Your photos are great from the Rhododendrons to those wonderful babies. LOVE it- nature is awesome!!

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  31. Great photos Rachel- as usual really enjoyed this post.

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  32. madaboutgreys

    Lovely photos. I hope the babies make it through to adulthood.

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  33. Didn’t realise their eggs were blue. They are a very showy off bird!

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  34. That’s awesome! Down here in Florida, the mockingbirds are coming out in full force, but I’m also still seeing cardinals as well. I haven’t seen any nests, though. The birds around here usually nest at higher levels. Mockingbirds mobbing other birds (usually crows) are a sight to see.

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  35. Those are AMAZING photos! I’ve heard of “robin’s egg blue” before but never thought I’d get to see the eggs themselves. Mama Robin must realize that you are a very special person indeed.

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  36. Also – thank you. This has been a weekend full of sad things, and your photos and story brightened my day so much.

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  37. Wonderful story…thank you!

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  38. great shots of the baby robins 🙂

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  39. Adorable puppy 💝. I could hold her through this photo.

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  40. What a beautiful depiction of one of God’s creation, and Cricket! So darn adorable! 🙂

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  41. Isn’t nature just wonderful. Gorgeous photo’s.

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  42. I love your photos Rachel and I too would be tempted by the blue eggs

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  43. Ah, Spring in the Northeast. Just lovely.
    xo, BB

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  44. Those photos are so fantastic!

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  45. Wow! What amazing photos!! Do you use a zoom lens? The one of Daddy Sparrow with the giant bug looks almost like he was posing!

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  46. Those are great photos! And I love how you tell the story here, especially about how you were talking with the Mama Bird.

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  47. Lovely photos of the baby birds, and the dog too of course.

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  48. Gorgeous pictures, Rachel. Our blue tits are continuously feeding their young – they must be exhausted! Pip

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  49. We’ve had issues in the past where the plant cover wasn’t enough for the mother robin to feel safe in her nest, and she would abandon it, despite our avoiding to hover and examine for nest updates once in awhile. I’m glad your babies have been born! Robins like local wild berries and insect protein, hope there’s enough for them this season. ^_^

    Reply

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