Tough love.

Today I am painfully aware . . . 

of the reason baby robins should not be raised in the dining room.  It is because the people living in the house may not have the stomach for it.

As you may recall, several weeks ago 2 robins built a nest on my dining room window ledge.  Then there were 4 perfectly blue eggs.  Then 4 perfectly ugly featherless things.  Fast forward a few weeks, and now there are 4 absolutely perfect miniature robins, fluffing their feathers and pretty much looking for handouts full-time with 4 constantly gaping beaks.

It's been a fairly dramatic illustration of the parent-child relationship.  Russ pretty much laughed every time he walked past them over the weekend.  Guess he's getting tired of paying for kids' car insurance.

But suddenly, today is graduation day! 

Time for the fledglings to . . . fledge!  For several days now, the babies have looked just about as ridiculous trying to fit in that nest as a bunch of 30-somethings would look living in their parents'  basement.  This morning, they were quite literally taking turns standing on top of one another, because there was no longer enough room for them to be side by side.

I was excited!  
They've made it this far!  BUT --

How to get them to leave?  A tricky question, and obviously one best left to the experts, of which I am not one.

The parents, who have been feeding the birds tag-team and non-stop for nearly two weeks, have stopped feeding them today.  I've seen the father plunk himself down somewhat disgustedly several times near the nest and on the ground under it, but so far he is turning a deaf ear to his babies' cries of hunger.  AND IT IS KILLING ME.

Personally, I would like to set the dining room table with some delicious fruit, nuts, and yes, if I have to, worms -- and invite them in for tea before they leave.

He'd like them to just get on with the business of becoming robins.

This afternoon, one has made its way out onto the ledge and is standing there looking wistful and like it truly regrets its first life decision.  It would like nothing more than to climb back in.  (I don't know if it is male or female, but I am calling it Hannah.)

The others seem to be watching to see what will happen next before they do anything rash.  For one thing, with the first one out, the nest is a little roomier than it was.  But surely they are all getting very, very hungry.

One problem is that they are shaded from the world by a curtain of ivy, so to them it looks much easier to step in through my window than to find a way out through the leaves.  They keep pressing themselves up against the glass, looking at me hopefully for signs of something to eat.

I've been mesmerized all day.  Can't stand to watch, can't bear to look away for fear I might miss the leap.  If I can't feed them myself, then flicking them off the ledge with my finger seems like the second best option.  Or just telling the parents to please EXPLAIN the situation to them a bit more clearly.  Help them understand that this is really in their best interest. Take the edge off their fear.  And maybe mine.

Perhaps if I were sure that SOMEONE knew what they were doing, I'd feel a bit more at ease about the whole thing.



Judy said...

Ah, so like our own parenting, isn't it? (Only we seem to have a much harder time flying away from our babies in the nest than these birds do.) Good luck, little ones. I hope the world is friendly.

luanne said...

I suspect many of us human parents (or at least, the ones likely reading here) find such tough love extremely challenging. But think about it -- the size & structure of a bird's nest pretty much dictates when the baby has outgrown it and needs to move along. (I suspect that's why our beloved duh-doves build such flimsy nests!) The thing is, the bird parents are there for the next phases too -- just as we humans are -- and they are amazingly tuned in to what the babies need.

The more I observe bird parents, the smarter I realize they are in teaching their offspring survuval skills. Quite amazing, really. So try not to worry. Robin Parents are pretty wise!

susan m hinckley said...

Well, the update is -- the two that had climbed out on the ledge yesterday climbed back in last night. Made me laugh right out loud! I really do hope they go today...it's killing me. But it sure is fascinating!

I'm hoping I can accomplish the same thing by buying a much smaller house -- what do you think my chances are?

Leenie said...

The last of my robins jumped the ledge and then could find no affordable nesting place. So there he is--at least with a job and the good sense to help out the holders of the deed to the nest with chores. (Wonder if he realizes he will have to take care of us in our geezerness if he doesn't give flying another shot.)

Please keep us updated on the drama.

How does Hannah feel about her namesake?

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