Robin Territory – Part 4 – Montana Robins (??)

Robin Territory – Part 4. It’s been almost three months since the two baby robins fledged. Summer is over and I just can’t stop thinking about the robin family that nested in our back yard this past summer. Because of Covid-19 we spent a great deal of time on our back deck watching the robins. I got so attached to the family – it seems we had two families living at our house, the Caraher family (David, Megan and I) and the robin family.

My last blog (Part 3 of the robin story) left off on July 12. One of the babies fledged on July 11, and the second one still hadn’t fledged by early evening on July 12. But on the morning of July 13, the nest was empty. The second robin had fledged sometime after 7 pm on the 12th! Where was he? (BTW – to keep things simple I’m calling all the robins “hims” – please, no offense ladies.)

I heard him first – in a bush up against our east fence. Here, I captured a photo of him:

July 13, 11:25 am

He stayed perched in that bush for over six hours, his parents flying to him to feed him. The other baby showed up on the west side of our yard. Boy those parents were busy. I fear this may be the last I saw of this little bird, as the next day and all the days going forward we saw only one baby robin.

It was such a thrill to watch this robin family. The fledglings chase after their parents and beg for food – the parents continue feeding them for one to three weeks! (Largely depending on how busy the parents are, I imagine.)

Here is a video I took of our little baby – begging for food and stalking his daddy (ha) – on July 20, 8 days after he fledged:

The family hung together. Whenever I’d see one robin in the back yard I’d look for the rest of them, because the parents were never far away from their little one.

Most baby robins die their first year. It was such a thrill to spot our little baby, knowing he made it through another day, as if he pulled a coup! You could spot him from a distance because of his breast – not orange but a distinctive speckled, almost glowing, brown breast.

There he is! Perched on our birdbath on August 2.

Look at me! So brave

And one of his parents was right above him, coaching him, you can do it! Take a dip!

I got to where the first thing I would do every morning was look for the robins, clean out and refill the birdbath. The robins sure knew how to take a bath, flipping their wings and tail feathers. It was wonderful to clean and fill the bath, and then watch them hop in and indulge themselves thoroughly. Robins know how to live. Work hard, play hard. Work as a team. Take good care of each other, nurture, feed, and mentor the young.

Into September we started seeing six or more robins in our back yard at one time. We’d run the sprinklers and a large group would be out there scavenging, cleaning up the ‘debris’ that had been washed up out of the lawn. A robin landed on the bird bath and was chased off! Our family was protecting their territory.

But then one morning, Monday, September 22, no robins. What? Where were they? Perhaps scavenging in a neighbor’s lawn three doors down? Surely they’ll return. David, Megan and I took a long walk through our neighborhood, into Rose Hill Cemetery where we always see gobs of robins. We didn’t see a one.

By Tuesday it was clear. The robins were gone. Without fanfare. No gathering in a huge flock, flying in V formation, announcing their departure in song across the sky. That’s just not their style. They just disappear. I was devastated. Which seems a bit stupid. What’s the problem? We’ve had robins every summer at this house for the past twenty years. Every year they’ve disappeared. But I’ve never really noticed, have I? Until this year. I had grown so attached to our robin family that I just wasn’t prepared to say good-bye.

A couple of days later, I met and chatted with a woman who was a Master Naturalist. I mentioned that the robins were gone. She said, yes. Our area here in southeast Idaho served as their breeding grounds and now they had migrated. But soon we should see some robins migrating here from Montana. Huh.

Sure enough, within a few days a few robins began to appear again. They looked slightly different from our robins, a little larger, darker faces perhaps, and maybe a bit more white around their tails. We spotted one in our back yard. Here – I took a photo:

September 27, Montana robin sighting!

I honestly just couldn’t get too excited about it. But I did go and clean the birdbath. And sure enough, he discovered it. Every time we looked out and saw the robin we’d say, “Oh, look – there’s the Montana robin!”

I snapped a photo of the robin on the bird bath this past Tuesday:

‘Gun-totin’ Montana Robin

I swear he looks like he’s sporting a holster and gun.

(Okay, I know. She could be a gun-totin’ female.)

I’ve been warming up to him since then. He’s adopted our back yard as his place to hang and scavenge for worms, bugs, and berries. He’s turned out to be a rather cool dude. Here you see a video I took of him yesterday in the bird bath:

Yeah, well, not getting too attached. I don’t think he’ll be sticking around long. We all know what kind of weather is coming down the pike.


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One Response to “Robin Territory – Part 4 – Montana Robins (??)”

  1. Mr Pillow Says:

    So ‘dem gun tot’n Montana robins done ran off those Idaho pacifist robins? Not to worry. I heard your favorite fledgling tweeted as he left, “I’LL BE BACK!”

    Confirms my belief that Twitter’s for the birds.

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