Requiem for a baby robin

1 07 2009

Not too long ago, a mama robin fashioned a beautiful nest at the top of the gazebo outside my office door. From my chair in front of the computer I could watch her come and go. I wasn’t sure if she was sitting on unhatched eggs or already mothering a hatched baby. Early this morning, after she left for her morning food gathering mission (I assume), I tapped on the gazebo and heard some faint chirping. I pulled out the ladder and climbed up to get a peek (camera in hand, of course). The gazebo has a grapevine growing over it and the area she had built the nest is well hidden by branches and leaves. We also put up one of those light nets that you put over bushes at Christmas so we could have mood lighting during parties. I wasn’t able to get up high enough to look down on the nest, so I just slipped my lens through the net, put the camera over my head, pointed it in the general direction, and snapped away. I got this not-that-great photo of her solitary sweet baby this morning.

About an hour ago, while we were watching a movie, Michael heard a bird chirping loudly and since birds don’t normally make much noise at night, we knew something was dreadfully wrong. Had the baby fallen out of the nest? Had Indie, a neighborhood cat, come into the yard and seen the baby? We ran downstairs, turned on the porch light and watched the mama bird hopping from branch to branch under the gazebo, chirping away. As soon as we opened the door, mama flew to the fence. We looked on the ground; no fallen baby. I looked up—and gasped—was that the curvy outline of a SNAKE? Yes, it was. I hollered to Michael. He went to grab a flashlight and grabbed the (black) snake by the head and pulled it out of the nest, banishing it (unharmed) to the woods nearby. Had we known the baby was already gone, I would have taken the dead bird and the snake out to the woods. I’m not a big fan of snakes, but I would never kill one (unless it was attacking me, that is) and I always discourage my snake-fearing friends from doing just that when they encounter one. I respect them but really…go feast on something else…and not in my yard!

I climbed the ladder to see if the baby was still alive. It was too late. I pulled its still warm but lifeless body out of the nest and began crying. Michael came back and we gave the baby bird a proper burial in the garden. Just 12 hours ago I was photographing an almost-ready-to-leave-the-nest baby and now we were burying it in our garden. I realize snakes need to survive, too, but it’s just such a sad thing to witness so soon after photographing it. Of course, when you build a paradise in your backyard, you’re bound to attract all sorts of wildlife, including the predators. I wish I had a better photograph to honor this sweet baby who lived such a short life. A short life, long remembered.

Speaking of snakes…a few years ago Michael was driving home through our neighborhood and noticed a U.S. postal truck that had stopped in the middle of the road. There was a group of kids on a nearby curb watching our postman beating the crap out of a harmless black snake! Michael gave him a lecture about black snakes and promptly rescued it, taking it to the woods to release it (although I’m sure it didn’t survive the postman’s wrath). The snake was simply slithering into the woods (as snakes are inclined to do) and the postman turned into animal control. Fast forward to a few weeks ago. Michael came home from work, then walked across the parking lot to get the mail from the communal post box. The mailman came running over, shouting “do you have a shovel?!” Michael asked him, “what in the world do you need a shovel for?” He said, “there’s a snake over there and I ran over him a couple of times with the truck but he’s still not dead!” Michael walked over and looked at the snake. Once again, it was a harmless black snake. And guess what? It was the same damn postman, too. When Michael came back in to the house, he told me what had transpired. He was mad, which in turn made me mad. I called the local post office to register a complaint. The man who answered said he would be the one to report to, so I told him both stories. I gave him our address so he was able to pinpoint exactly which mailman I reporting. He said, “that is so not his responsibility nor his job. Plus, doesn’t he know that snakes keep the rat population down?” He apologized for the man’s behavior and said he would speak to him about the incidents.

Obviously Michael is the calm one in this relationship. It’s a good thing I didn’t encounter the postman either time!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Baby Robin


Actions

Information

2 responses

2 07 2009
Jefferson Evans

I had a very similar experience while on my recent storm chasing trip. We were returning to our vans after dinner and noticed a kid dropping a rock on what was a harmless snake, a black racer I think. I was too late to save the snake but gave the kid a lecture on why he shouldn’t do that. I was royally pissed.

7 07 2009
Regina

Hi Cindy,

oh that is so sad and so traumatic… but I totally support the decision to move the snake unharmed, to the woods. I have yet to rescue a baby bird on my wildlife rescue shifts. I guess you could count the baby duckling we got out of a woman’s pool, but we had to take them to the shelter since we could not re-unite the mom with the babies. But I am hoping for a reunite with momma bird since that is the measure of our success. I tried to rescue a black snake during another wildlife shift the other weekend, but the outcome was not a good one.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s




<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: