Monday, May 5, 2008

Grazing in the Grass with Robin


Good conversations with different species are a hard 'get.' Recently, after endless negotiations, I was granted an interview with possibly the most famous bird around. The robin could be most recognizable flyer known to man. Spring wouldn't be the same without them! It was only a few fleeting moments, but interesting nonetheless. How those minutes flew by!


K: You don't talk to humans very much. What should we know about robins? What do you want us to be aware of?


R: We keep it simple. When we need to eat, we hunt worms, grubs and caterpillars. Fruit and berries are our dessert. We build nests. When it gets too cold, we fly south.


K: Robins always seem to be looking for worms. You stop. You listen. You move again. You pounce and dig. Don’t you ever get tired?


R: Look, we need to feed ourselves and we need to feed our chicks. We hunt with our eyes a lot more than our ears. Rainy days are a luxury because those squiggly guys come out in droves. It’s very much like free food for humans. By the way, we don’t ‘bob’ whatever the heck that means. We’ve all heard that song. We’re just doing our jobs, OK? Lay off the ‘bob, bob, bobbing along’ nonsense already!


K: While we are on stereotypes, how do you react to ‘robin red breast?’


R: This is another thing we don’t understand. First of all, our front plumage is orange, not red. Secondly, I don’t see you giving cardinals a hard time. They are red and they have those silly little crests, as well. What really annoys us is the Latin scientific identifier you handed us! Turdus migratorius? I just don’t think that’s very polite at all!


K: I’m truly sorry. I didn’t come up with it. Robins have good connotations, as well, you know. You are the state bird of Michigan, Wisconsin and Connecticut. There’s a great standard pop tune called ‘Rockin Robin.’ Robin Hood was a working class hero. And, of course, there was Batman and Robin. If you know Winnie the Pooh, you’ve heard of Christopher Robin.


R: OK. OK. I forgive you.


K: Besides hunting for food, what do you do with the rest of your day?


R: We stay out of trouble. We are not big and we look like dinner to a lot of creatures. Raptors, raccoons, fox, cats and you humans moving around in those metal boxes you get into. Do you know what it is like to fly around and suddenly have one of those things coming at you? Most of the time we get out of the way, but when we get hit, man, it hurts!


The other thing that takes a lot of effort is parenthood. First, we have to gather all the sticks and leaves and mud and build a nest. Your mate has to lay maybe even six blue eggs and incubate them for 14 days. You try sitting still for two weeks! Then, we have to feed them constantly. At the end of the month, you kick them out of the nest and start all over again. Sometimes we produce three broods in one season. It may not sound like much, but you are trying to survive all day, every day!


K: How do you tell each other apart? You all look pretty much the same to us.


R: Here you go again. You should know how we think about humans. You’re big and you thump around. Loudly. It’s really distracting. You keep chopping down trees and building your nests. You can really make a mess! You look a lot alike to us, too.


K: But you didn’t answer the question…


R: The secret’s out. We look at the plumage around the eyes and head and along the wings. Everybody’s is quite distinctive. And we look at weight, too. You can tell who’s been busy and who hasn’t!


K: If you had one message to send to the human race, what would it be?


R: Take it easy with all the stuff you like to spread over grass. It makes our worms and grubs really bitter and makes us sick. Plant more trees and let things grow out. We need to have safe places to stay. If you need to destroy our world, at least put out seed and water for us. It’s the least you can do. Just take it easy, will you? Thanks for asking.


K: And thanks for the interview!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know the name of the robin you interveiwed. We need a bird for the next issue of ParkBirds Weekly, and he seems like just the sort!

Great article dad :D