Dear Mrs. Red Robin,
Spring has finally come to the garden and the warm weather has me thinking about you. I hope you are well and enjoyed your winter away.
Will you be returning again to make your nest and raise your babies in the arbor, I wonder?
When I first saw that you had made your nest in the arbor last spring, I am ashamed to admit I thought you were foolish. I hope you forgive both my honesty and my terrible arrogance! To me the arbor seemed like such a low and exposed place to build a family home. We humans have one serious frailty– we think we always know best.
So quickly I saw the wisdom of your choice! The leafy arbor had both a front and back door. It was nothing for you to fly from your lookout in the black walnut to the arbor and slip unseen through the leaves to the sheltered nest inside of the arbor. And if no one was watching, there was always the more direct root from the fence to the nest that you had hidden so skillfully.
Curious creature that I am, I couldn't resist counting the tiny eggs one day when you were out. Five perfect turquoise eggs!
I pass through the arbor daily on my way into the garden. Despite my coming and going inches your resting spot, you remained steadfast on those precious eggs. How I came to admire your bravery and diligence Mrs. Robin! I think after a while we got rather used to one another, didn't we? I began to look forward to that moment when l'd pass and say hello.
Then we had that terrible cold snap and even the warmth.of your feathered breast could not protect the two eggs at the very bottom of the nest. Oh the heartbreak motherhood can bring! Only three babies survived to tap their way out of their shells. As mothers we do our best, but sometimes there is nothing we can do to protect our children from the harsh realities of life.
I think I was excited as you were to see the three baby robins. All beaks and eyes they weren't cute in the way that babies so often are, but with regular meals of fresh tasty worms who wouldn't see their potential to become handsome birds? It broke my heart when one morning I found a baby had fallen from the crowded nest and perished in the cold. I buried him among the flowers, and like you, I invested all my hopes in the remaining two.
Some might scoff at me for thinking I could learn anything from a simple creature like a bird, but learn I did. Flying is no easy task even when you are born with wings. I see that now!
The days got warmer and the babies grew and grew. There were no further mishaps until Mr.Gardener walked through the arbor one afternoon unaware. The startled fledglings fluttered to the ground to the sounds of your alarmed, "Pip, pip, pip." Mr. Robin came in answer to your calls and all the other birds spread the word that there was possible danger in the garden.
I thought that your distress was that your babies had fallen, but now I think I see, my dear Mrs. Red Robin, that your only concern was for the circumstances in which they had fallen. The young fledglings had been testing their wings for days. They were ready to leave the nest and make their own way in the world. The only difference was that their departure was not made at a moment of their choosing.
There is a right of passage that all adolescent robins must face. The first test of a young robin's wings is a safe drop to the ground. That is why your nest is not high in a tree! Now I understand that there is a very delicate balance at work when you build your nest. A home close to the ground might invite danger from predators, but it also assures your offspring will make it through their first flight unharmed.
Who would have guested that the cacophony of bird calls on that bright, sunny afternoon would bring fresh danger instead of preventing old? A brown hawk swooped down from the sky and perched himself on the fence. What a devilishly handsome fellow he was too! Mr. Gardener and I watched with horror as one of the two babies hopped down the garden path in plain sight those dark, beady eyes. There was not a moment to loose. I ran down the path after your wee babe waving my arms up and down as if l had my own pair of wings. The hawk wanted no part of such lunacy. He took to the sky and disappeared as mysteriously as he had arrived.
While I was occupied creating a distraction, the fledgling disappeared into the green cover of the garden. There his black feathers and spotted breast made him all but invisible. I felt sick fearing the worst would befall the last of your children, Mrs Red Robin! You had worked hard to keep them safe, but sometimes misfortune counters a parent's best efforts!
I am so very glad that neither of your children perished that afternoon or in the days that followed. I was relieved and happy when I discovered that there were still two shy adolescents in your good company Mrs. Red Robin! I could not have been more proud of them, if they had been my own.
It broke my heart all over again when they eventually struck it out on their own.
So now you know, my dear friend, how much I have been thinking of you. The arbor remains empty awaiting your return.
Happy Easter to you Mrs Red Robin. Happy Easter!
P. S. If you happen to see Mrs. Brown Bunny in your travels, please pass on my regards.