Warning: this post mentions the death of many robins and might be upsetting to some readers. I think I becoming most irritated by robins because there is rarely a happy outcome, no matter which way it is handled.
My fuck, the animals have been up to no good and have caused some real chaos. Everything is under control now, despite the sad events that have transpired, and I’m starting my 3-day chicken farming stint, so I have time to write about it.
I could write about my hamsters, and the miraculous rescue of one baby while Ursula attempted to rehome herself to my paper pile.
I could write about my crazy twenty chicks, and how two unfortunate events happened yesterday which led to two chicks (Uma and the newly-named Bloodeye) being injured. Now the chicks are sorted into three brooders: the young and injured, the “keepers,” and the ones I plan on rehoming. The ones I plan on rehoming are so chill and calm in their brooder while the keepers are fucking loud and all over the place… starting to question my choices.
Instead, let me tell you about my adventures with my neighbourhood robins, something that started long before my chicken farming adventures…
Flashback to April 2015. The first spring in our new house.
After so long in the city, especially in sketchy areas, I missed seeing bird’s nests, which I used to see a lot as a child. My parents have a lovely private yard in the city, so there were a fair amount of birds, but the nests were still few and far between.
I had been looking for nests as soon as the weather warmed up to no avail. Then two children came over for the day to play with Mason and the little girl pointed out that there was a nest in his play fort! And there was an egg in the nest!
The babies were awesome, until shortly after my last picture they were all killed. I blame a feral cat; that week there were so many bird bodies, left in massacred piles around my yard, and my neighbour also complained about all of the dead birds in her yard.
However, while I watched the babies grow up, their mother was a wreck. I guess I’m a little bit judgy towards animal mums but from day one I thought it was weird how many breaks the mother robin took; it wasn’t hard to take pictures without her noticing.
But what was difficult was my son trying to play in his play fort. He wasn’t tall enough to have a good view of the nest and lots of times he would just be playing by the ground near his play-set and that robin mother would start dive-bombing him and circling his head.
One time I caught Mason calling the robin a son of a bitch. He didn’t realize I could hear him. Although he was still lectured for his foul language, I did sympathize because that robin really was being a super-scene-narc-er.
The summer went on and more and more nests popped up. Starling babies, lots of robins, a few random eggs I think are called something silly sounding like cowpokes.
Two or three robins built nests in the front yard, in the most inconvenient spots, and daily I was chirped and yelled at by the robins simply for walking through my front yard. I’m sorry, robins, that I had to leave my house to buy groceries and then carry them past you to get them into the house.
We also had a dog at that point who hated all other animals. Sometimes when I put him on his chain in the front the robins would object to him chewing on his bone so they’re start diving at him and getting him all riled up. I’d have to bring him inside because I’d worry he’d accidentally eat a robin that was coming at him.
A robin tragedy happened one day when baby robins jumped out of their nest, right into my dog’s paws too, and though I actually managed to get my dog inside before anything happened, the mother robin was too enraged and oblivious to seem to be able to lead her babies back to the nest and I don’t think they ever made it. I tried with one baby to put it back (with gloves on) but the mother had a major freak out and tried to attack me.
Winter gave us a break from annoying robins, then it was spring 2016…
This year I was like, fuck yeah, there isn’t a nest in the play fort and I can finally move my tire-swing to a better spot (I had it in a spot where it would occasionally bump into a tree).
It didn’t take long for the robins to start chirping me as they made nests in low trees and blamed me for walking by them. Morning doves also made a nest in a tree on my yard and they weren’t a nuisance at all, and very cute to watch the couple from the window.
Two or three robin’s nests later, there is now one right in the spot I wanted to move my tire swing.
My friend Megan the Mechanic messaged me because she found an abandoned baby robin and she didn’t know what to do with him or her. I gave her some brief advice but didn’t offer to take the babe in — very unlike me, but I just didn’t want to deal with it when I have all of my chicken chicks to take care of.
A few days later, walking to my barn, there was a small bird sitting in the middle of the road. A truck drove by, moving into the opposite lane to avoid me, and thus avoided the bird too. I easily picked up the bird, realized it was a baby robin with a hurt eye, and about 5 birds starting rampaging, yelling and circling and telling me to stop trying to help the baby! I deposited the baby on the grass and walked to the barn. What would have been a better option?
Me, 20 minutes after, on the way to work: Husband, we have a major chick situation.
Husband: What? What happened?
Me: There was a baby robin on the road and I moved him or her.
Husband: And where is it now?
Me: On the neighbour’s lawn, with a bunch of robins around.
Me: I’m worried.
Husband: How is that a major chick situation? That’s not even our chick.
Me: Well, it’s not OUR major chick situation, but it is a situation for the robins to deal with, and I’m worried because quite frankly, I don’t have a lot of faith in the robin intelligence.
Husband: [pats my shoulder] Don’t worry about that, you have enough baby animals of your own to think about.
I unfortunately don’t know the resolution of that situation, as they were all gone when I came home from work that evening.
A few days after that event, I was in my front yard at midnight. It was a lovely evening. I was swinging on my tire-swing, trying not to crash into the tree. The robins nested in that tree were asleep. When I got up to run inside, a robin got startled and flew away from me, right into my kitchen window. My husband and brother were inside, what the fuck did I just throw at the window? Nothing, and we looked in our garden where a very-much-alive but pretty-stunned young robin was standing. For once, I didn’t hear any robins chirping or going crazy.
He was super easy to pick up. I didn’t want to leave him for the cats. (And, 20 minutes after I took him from the yard there was a feral cat in my front garden.)
I moved him into an empty brooder, where he hopped around a bit but seemed unable to fly much. I gave him things I had read about from my last entanglement with robins and hoped for the best, taking quick pictures while I could. If I was to age him, I’d say around 20 days old.
I’m sad to report that robin didn’t make it. I thought he would, and I wish I knew what killed him… he had a bit of blood coming from his mouth when he died.
I’m bitter about robins. I’m sad to be dragged into their misadventures and it nearly every time having an unfortunate or unresolved-assuming-the-worst ending. I can understand why people let nature take its course, even though the odds are against them because nature is fucking savage.
Anyways, my life is complicated and I now love that robin post-mortem which I realize is irrational and I just really, really hope that robins will give me a bit of a reprieve so I don’t get stuck in these huge moral, animal-loving dilemmas that rarely turn out for good.
One day I’ll tell you all a story about the time my sister, as a child, saved a dragonfly. It’s relevant to this.