The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

July 17, 2008

Rockin' Robins and the Mounting Bird Poop Debate

Being the 21st Century's version of famed naturalist and bird-watcher John James Audubon, I regale people at work about my vast knowledge of nature and all life that abounds in it.

The picture above is my photo of one of two outdoor smoking areas where my company herds us, like cows, to our most certain demise to partake of the cause of second-hand smoke.

You will note the plastic ashtray stand. And you will note the trees where, on a hot sunny summer afternoon, I stand to seek some shade.

There's a little garden there, overgrown with weeds, but it's better than nothing.

Well, you can imagine the collective horror of the smoking populace when bird poop started amassing on the sidewalk under that first tree.

As if making us walk around to a secluded area of the building wasn't bad enough, now we had to trapse through bird poop.

I've already previously posted about the pooping pigeons on top of the building, which got me on the shoulder once.

This was too much.

Well, and this has become a major tourist attraction at Smokers' Den for the last week and half while I've been stuck in the office with all the nerdy-nerds, it turns out there's a valid reason for all that poop.

A mating robin couple built a nest in that tree in photo No. 1...

...Right above where most of us congregate to make jokes about the company and to talk about the weather and the pooping pigeons and other important news of the day.

And inside that nest, we all noticed, were three chicks, hatchlings or otherwise baby robins.

And so with all the expertise I have as the world's foremost bird baron, I mustered the thought, which I voiced to whomever happened to decide, unfortunately for them, to have a cigarette at the same time I did:

"Why would two stupid robins decide to build their nest right above the gathering location for a bunch of idiotic humans who will stare at them, threaten them just by their presence, joke about them, scare the living daylights out of them?

"And besides all that, who will exhale second-hand smoke that will be carried right up into those tree branches and endanger the health of their babies?"

I made sure this debate has continued all these past 10 or so days, driving fellow employees nuts.

The fact is, there IS no explanation for the choice of nesting site, although one woman did joke that the "crotch" in the tree must have been perfect. But couldn't they have found a safer crotch?

There have also been silly discussions about the redder breasts that male robins have as opposed to female robins, and I was proven right on that score.

The males must attract the females, you see.


The point is, near as we can tell, two of the babies have already left the nest, which is about eight or nine feet off the ground.

Technically, assuming they're still alive, I believe they are now called "fledglings" if they're not "dead things."

The last remaining baby robin -- which I studied carefully all day to document its behaviour -- looked ready to fly the coop, so to speak.

But before it did, I took the following pictures, none of which turned out.

If you can see a baby robin in any of them, you're better than me. I think the third pic below I cut off the nest entirely from the photo, while No. 4 pic, I think, is either upside down or sideways.

Anyway, nature is a beautiful thing. It just seems stupid, sometimes.
I don't know whether the mommy or the daddy robin picked this nest site or whether they made this decision in the middle of the night with no humans there or what.
I guess despite it all, it appears that all three of their babies have survived.
And they did become big stars during their fledgling process as we watched the parents fly off to catch worms, grubs and caterpillars and return to feed them.
Somehow, though, I don't think they're going to clean up their poop. And now that they've all fled the coop, what the heck are we going to talk about now?


  1. You could talk about the birds that used to be there... "Remember that stupid couple who build their nest right above us...?" etc... Or you could discuss world politics, religion, what's wrong with the kids these days, and what ever happened to [insert minor celebrity from 20 years ago here]. :)

  2. You think YOU’VE got it bad?

    Look at the vicar!

  3. Stace:

    Well we have the bird poop there as a visible sign of their presence. I imagine when I go back to work today, the last remaining chick will be gone.

    I only discuss politics, religion, what's wrong with kids these days and minor celebrities with Donnnnnnnn or on this blog or others.

  4. MJ:

    Unfortunately or fortunately, perhaps, my highly paranoid computer security system won't let me access that site because it says it's a known spyware site.

    I can only imagine...

  5. Oh for Heaven's sake.

    It's a link to the BBC!

    To get the story, Google this phrase...

    "vicar attacked by seagulls"

  6. MJ:

    What, you can actually function at 5:32 a.m.?

    Hey, don't blame me for my over-protective firewall.

    That is SUPER funny.

    By comparison, the robin parents are wussies and just watch us from afar even though we're three feet or so from their offspring and could kill them in a second.

  7. Apparently your fascination with bodily functions now extends to the Avian world? I'll alert the media...
    wait a second you are the media.

    Here is a psychoanalytical response.
    The relief of having your daughter return safely from afar triggered this fascination with parenting. You transferred many of your emotional concerns to the dutiful parents and your concern for the well being of the helpless fledglings culminated in a thinly disguised feel-good piece centered on how shitty it is that offspring never thank the parents for all of the hard work, no, fledglings just grow up as fast as they bloody well can and then flock off.

    How's that?

  8. Donnnnnnnnn:

    Oh for God's sake, another stupid hat picture. And now you've stolen Spencer's grad hat to do it?

    Do you have no shame?

    That's an excellent psychoanalytical theory, Dr. Seuss, and I applaud you.

    Now please analyse your own tiny brain and postulate the importance to it of your fixation on mice, raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, spiders, ants, caterpillars and other harmless creatures invading your house and threatening the lives, welfare and survival of your lovely wife and son.

  9. I read somewhere that the male robin finds a spot for a nest before he even finds a mate. The males even fight each other for the best territory. Then, once the males have their territories selected, the females fight over the best male with the best territory. Then the female builds the nest - which only serves as a nursery.

  10. Anna:

    WOW!We've got a robin expert right in our own midst! That sounds completely plausible, doesn't it?

    I only know this because you're an expectant mother-to-be yourself.

    But let's see...the males fight, then the females fight...all just to lay a couple of eggs and spend the next two weeks digging up worms to feed the fledglings?

    Geez, what creatures won't do to propogate their species...

  11. Anna is right Robins are complete nutjobs and will spend all day attacking their reflection in a window..psychotic little whackjob bastards.

  12. Donnnnnnnnnnn (Annnnnnnnnnnnna):

    Robins don't do a thing. I think you're still having paranoid psychosis flashbacks because you said that's what the rabbit did.

  13. Anonymous4:13 p.m.

    At least robins a small, with short gastro-intestinal tracts.

  14. Dinahmow:

    OK, we'll add that bit to our highly scientific paper on the innards and psychology of robin mating rituals.

  15. I think all birds are wackos that will attack anyone and anything for no apparent reason. Knowing those birds were up there would have been enough to make me quit smoking (if I was a smoker). By the way, didn't you quit or is that just wishful thinking on my part?

  16. lol... and you know there's a possibility they'll be back!!?!?

  17. Anna:

    Hmmm, I don't have any problems with birds attacking me.

    These robins were very attentive birds and never tried to dive-bomb us or anything even as we stood feet away from their babies and stared at them every day.

    I'm always considering quitting. But no, I still partake.


    Well, I guess there's a possibility the same pair will be back next year if the nest stays intact.


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