A few days ago, we had an unusual guest while having lunch on the balcony. A robin perched right next to us with insect legs dangling from its bill, and watched us without moving for a while. I didn’t move, either (I was sitting under the jasmine, next to the wall), and so we just faced each other for a few minutes. Eventually, it swallowed its prey and moved under a clump of leaves while I wasn’t looking. I thought it had left and got up; a mistake, since I ended up frightening it and it flew right into the flat. To add insult to injury, it spent the next few minutes trying to fly away through a closed window… but eventually found the way, and left.
We saw it again the next couple of days, peering at us from the opening of a small bird shelter we put up on the wall, in the jasmine. Then we saw it come and go, often with insects or slugs in its bill. And then, as we were giving the bedroom a fresh coat of paint during a nesting season of our own… my boyfriend noticed unusual activity in the bird shelter.
Turns out that a pair of robins had actually built a nest there. Since these birds are amazing at discretion, we hadn’t noticed anything until the chicks were so big they almost crowded each other out of the shelter; at that point, however, they had to stick their heads out to demand food, and we could see three or four of them vying for their parents’ attention, with a loud rattling cry. That was just three days ago… and this morning, we found that one of them had fallen on the balcony. We just closed the door and did nothing (picking up fallen chicks does more harm than good, as it’s quite normal for juveniles to fall off the nest), and indeed, a quick glance revealed that the nest was empty. They had all flown away.
We saw them again a couple of times, stretching their wings and chirping for their parents. In a few days, they won’t come back to say hello. It’s a harsh life out there for young robins, and it’s not unusual for an entire brood to die before they’ve reached adulthood. I only hope they find the way to the nest while they still need it. If they make it, there will be fresh butter and dried worms waiting for them on the balcony this winter.