Before I write this morning's post I thought I'd mention that the robins' first brood has hatched back in the eaves under the covered patio, and I managed to get a few snaps of Mr. and Mrs. at home. They're getting used to me and the dogs, and no longer fly away every time we come outside—especially if we move slowly. Lulu ambling arthritically past doesn't seem to perturb them. They also seem less skittish about me if I make noise, so I keep up a patter of nonsense in a soft voice when I'm near them. (Some people would say that's no different than the rest of the time.)
I'm not a wildlife photographer, far from it, and I know some of you are, so I beg your indulgence for my paltry reporting:
I don't know what the pose means—head back and up, beak open. They stand motionless that way, when I'm around at least. Poised to attack? Ready for evasive action? Overwhelmed with a sense of portent and glory, like Taber (Christopher Lloyd) in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest? I don't know.
Maybe they noticed the camera and they're just stylin' for their cameo.
A detail of the same picture
According to Wikipedia, both the male and female robins help care for the young, so I assume that's who the guy is. It's just been Mrs. sitting on the eggs.
American Robins are thrushes. They can live up to 14 years, but two years is the average lifespan in the wild. Songbirds are declining at a ferocious rate in the U.S., because of pesticides, habitat encroachment, feral cats, and windows, which kill more birds than anything else by a considerable margin. At least directly—habitat loss and environmental poisons probably do more damage to populations. I think robins are the most common songbird in North America. As ground birds, they're especially vulnerable to feral cats, which is the second largest cause of direct bird mortality overall but possibly number one for robins. We have lots of robins around here, because the coyotes and raptors get the feral cats.
There is one hatchling so far, or at least one. I see him when the parents aren't home, weaving back and forth, beak open wide toward the sky, begging for dinner. Young robins hang around their parents and beg for food even after they fly away from the nest.
Seems like a happy family. From what I can see, anyway.
Now on to this morning's posts!
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
ASW: "Hi Mike. I suspect your avian friends are just overheated. Unlike humans, most animals cannot sweat when hot. Birds, like dogs, use rapid breathing (panting) to move air across blood-infused tissues in their respiratory system and mouth to expel heat (very similar to the radiator in your car)."
Richard Skoonberg: "I think it is pretty darn perfect wildlife image. It has beautiful expression and shows a relationship we don't see very often. It is composed with soft light in a pleasing geometric setting. Well seen, Mike."
Mike replies: Thank you! I should mention that I very seldom publish compliments as "Featured Comments"—it just seems too egotistical on my part, since I control which comments get featured. But of course "every good dog deserves praise," and like anyone I appreciate compliments. A blanket thanks to everyone who's ever said anything nice about me or one of my snaps.
Tom Burke: "Did you know that American and European robins are completely different birds? The European robin is much smaller, doesn't flock, and isn't even a thrush. They can be very tame—many UK residents working in a garden will be familiar with the local robin getting very close (within a metre or less) and watching the gardener's work, to see if any juicy worms appear. The males are extremely territorial, and arguments between two robins are quite common."
Mike replies: I did not know that, until I posted this. That so often happens. Whatever I post about, I learn more about. Almost regardless of what it is.