Robins

Image from Wikipedia creative commons

Image from Wikipedia creative commons

The recent sighting of robins in my backyard brought back a memory of spring rains. One year in particular comes to mind.

The rains came, and it was more than spring showers, it was a three day soaking that got tiresome after the second day. The city air was clean by the first afternoon, the grime washed off the trees and power lines, the layers of winter dust were washed away. By the third day, the ground was saturated and our boots squelched as we walked across the field. Our entire house smelled of wet dog all the time.

Outside I could smell the worms, mouldering leaves, the first flowers of spring.

The only good thing about three days of rain was seeing the robins bopping around in the yard. We knew they were after the worms. The robins stared at the bounty with beady eyes on tilted heads. Their ears listened for the sound of dew worms squirming just below the surface. A birdie smorgasbord.

For some reason the robins ignored the worms crawling over the sidewalks in full view. They preferred  to pick their own, would put the first few aside, then pick some more. They tossed the poor worms around for a while, like cats playing with mice, then pinched them into smaller pieces before deciding which bits tasted the best. It was a complicated ritual.

By the third day, the robins were getting pretty plump—full to the brim with red breasts swelling like some over-stuffed guest at Easter dinner. Some looked too fat to fly, as if they had put on too much ‘worm weight’ and their wings weren’t strong enough for lift off. Robins can’t loosen their belts either, so they just ran around when they got too full. They ran around a lot.

I love the robins in our yard. I’m sure the same ones come back every spring. We recognized one particular male robin with a distinct, quirky appearance. The feathers on his head looked like he got a flat-top buzz cut, possibly the result of a close shave with a predator. He had a lot of attitude in a small package. This fellow was vocal and not afraid to stake out his territory as he sat atop the power pole out behind our house, especially in the evening. I have not seen him for a couple of years, maybe the replacements are his offspring.

So far I’ve only seen a couple of robins in my yard this year. It’s still early though, and we have yet to get a really good soaking rain.  Such is the beauty of Calgary. The robins, like spring will come, even if we have to wait until July.

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