Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Robins and Polar Bears

The last several weeks have been very interesting, in my back garden. There is a back porch that has wooden posts extending upwards to support the overhead trellis and between the trellis and the back wall of the house a pair of robins decided to build a nest.

Joanne and I were both a bit concerned with this location because we walk past this area many times during the day. Our neighbours also share our driveway, so there is even more concern for disturbing the robins. But, they didn’t seem to mind so much, so everything has worked out fine.

We learned a lot, just watching all the commotion in the nest, every evening. I didn’t realize it, but both the mama and papa robin took turns feeding their babies. While I would be doing some weeding in the garden, I would notice the robins moving throughout the garden to find yummy worms to feed their young. It put a smile on my face to know that my garden was providing for another family, as well as my own.

It really surprised me to see how fast the babies grew. This photo was taken just five days after the first photo and during this time the babies had tripled in size. Just a few minutes before this photo was taken, one of the babies had climbed to the top of the nest to get away from its siblings for a minute or two. By the time I had run upstairs and returned with my camera, all three were back in the nest again.

I was very surprised to find that the very next day, the nest was empty. I spent a moment looking around for the babies but they were nowhere to be found. That evening, I had shared this story with Joanne’s parents – they had invited us over for dinner – and Jo’s dad explained the reason why…

When the babies, themselves, feel it’s time to leave the nest, they do by flying (or half-falling) to the ground. For the next few weeks the babies will stay on the ground, running around on their feet and flying small distances as they learn to fly. The parents stick close by to continue feeding them until they are ready to embark on their own life’s journey. This time is very dangerous, as neighbourhood cats may want to eat them up yum!

I had always thought that they would learn to fly, enough to keep returning to the nest for a few more weeks, but I was wrong. Joanne and I both said a little prayer to the god of birds to see over these babies until they are strong and beautiful.

The reason that I entitled this blog entry as “Robins and Polar Bears” is because every time I see a robin I can’t help but remember my experience that I had while in Canada’s arctic. Story:

Robins have always been a glorious symbol for our Southern Ontario springtime. Now, they have a more important role as symbols of our deteriorating biosphere. We should take heed in all the symbols that Nature shares with us, so that we can begin to learn our true place in the web of life.


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