Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dinner with Robins

Tuesday, Nov 27, 2013
Our yard is a busy place this morning.  We’ve had several nights of frost, bringing extra birds down into the valley.  Yesterday I noticed a song sparrow taking great offense to his reflection in our Toyota RAV’s side-view mirror.  The sparrow hops on the door windowsill and sure enough, that dastardly intruder is right next to him (his image in the mirror).  He immediately goes after the devil, but “poof!” the intruder disappears quick as a wink.  So the befuddled sparrow sits for a moment on top of the mirror looking about. 

“Wait!  What is that?”  He sees his reflection in the car window again and hops back down.  Now that dastardly sparrow is back in the mirror.  Round and round the poor little fella goes.  He kept it up all the while I ate breakfast yesterday, and again today.  The mirror is getting all smeary with his spit.  
Meanwhile I’ve got a second circus going on outside the same window.  We have a volunteer English hawthorn tree growing about six feet from the window.  It is a foggy, still morning, very still; yet the hawthorn is a quiver.  Robins have arrived.  I’m always fascinated at how my hawthorn berries are ignored day after day, and then comes the invasion.  I predict that in three days there will be few berries left.  

The robins reach out, stretch out, tip upside down, even flutter to grab another berry.  I try counting how many berries one robin eats. Often I get to three, once one stayed put while he ate five!  How can he stuff in so many?  Dr. Oz wouldn’t approve of such gluttony.  

The robins feed for a few minutes.  I don’t know how many there are -- ten?  twenty?  I’d spook them if I go outside for a better view.  The flock comes and goes for over an hour, giving me a wonderful chance to draw.  I even have one cedar waxwing, but he only comes once.  I see a ruby-crowned kinglet and some juncoes too, but the berries are way too big for them.  Some berries are too big for the robins.  Often I see one get flicked aside, and sometimes a robin struggles before swallowing.  

It is 10:30 AM before life returns to a quiet normal.  I look forward to tomorrow.  The robins will be having their Thanksgiving dinner outside my window.  

Followup:  The robins did come for dinner on Thanksgiving and there were still a few berries the following day.  But today the tree is stripped and my yard is back to normal.  Earlier in the fall we had a similar invasion when the robins decided our Concord grapes were ready.  If I’m prompt I can harvest all the grapes I want before their arrival.  Fortunately I have a great plenty of grapes so the robins always have a feast.


  1. What a lovely post! We have the same thing happen with our Oregon Grapes. They are loaded all summer, then suddenly all the grapes are gone. The usual culprits (I think) are varied thrushes.

  2. Dear Elva,
    Thank you for sharing the beautiful drawings and the interesting post.
    Cheers, Sadami

  3. Love these sketches. I have t had the robins like usual ..probably because the 20 Turkeys have taken over here. Even chasing the crows away we love. I am jealous that you have seen a Cedar Waxwing so close to us. I didn't know they were around here

  4. Love the robin sketch you've created and the words make the image more…lively…I guess as I can easily invasion a busy airport of robins coming in to land, feast, and launch!

    My parents had a cardinal that did the same thing to their bedroom window (it had reflective film on it because it was a west facing window). They finally had to paint a black band across the bottom of the window to get the silly bird to quit fighting with himself. He would start as soon as it was light enough to see—long before my parents were ready to get up!

  5. Having seen how loaded your English hawthorn was this fall, we can really appreciate the speed at which the robins denuded it. It's amazing how the red globe in each robin-berry sketch brings it to life.
    Also loved the Shell Island reports and sketches. It's amazing what one sees by 1. going out, and 2. paying attention. Thanks for sharing!